Lexington Catholic star Vee Sanford's sore knee kept him on the bench for the first half of the Knights' quarterfinal game against McCreary Central in the Republic Bank Holiday Classic Saturday.
Lexington Catholic, rated ninth in the state, still was able to build a 39-28 halftime lead, but Sanford was itching to get on the court.
With UK Coach Billy Gillispie and Nebraska Coach Doc Sadler sitting side-by-side and watching, Sanford made up for lost time in the second half and finished with 17 points, four rebounds and two steals in 12 minutes.
"My teammates did most of the work, so there wasn't too much to worry about," the 6-foot-3 senior said.
Sanford has scholarship offers from Nebraska, St. Louis and Toledo. UK is keeping tabs on him, too.
Brandon Salsman recognizes Sanford as a "special player," but the Knights coach stresses the team concept. So whether Sanford is in the lineup or on the bench nursing tendinitis in his right knee, he expects his other players to perform.
"Our young kids are getting better every time they step on the court, whether Vee is in there or not," Salsman said.
"We're not a one-man program; all of our kids know they've gotta play every night and get better."
Salsman said beating McCreary Central decisively showed that the Knights are headed in the right direction.
"This is a great win for us because McCreary is definitely the best team in the 12th Region, and Aaron Watts is the best player in the 12th."
Watts, a 6-2 junior, followed up a 34-point game in the opening round with 22 points, six rebounds and three steals against Lexington Catholic.
Sanford got a lot more help from his teammates. Scott Schuette and Jaylen Beckham had 13 points apiece, and Tanner Peurach had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
St. Xavier 64, Lexington Christian 62 (2OT): Nick Jones hit two free throws with eight-tenths of a second left to give the Tigers a hard-earned win.
LCA's Brandon Burdette banked in a 30-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to force the first overtime.
Burdette couldn't convert an off-balance layup with eight seconds left in the first extra period. St. X had a last-second shot blocked, and the game went into a second OT.
Brian Gunter and Dalton O'Brien had 14 points apiece for the winners. Gunter also had nine rebounds. Matt Lorh added 12 points.
LCA raced to a 19-5 lead in the opening minutes, but St. X was within one, 29-28, at halftime.
Will Evans, a 6-4 junior, had a monster game for LCA with 21 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and six steals.
No. 6 Clark County 68, Trinity 64: Clark County withstood a strong finish by the Shamrocks to advance to Monday's semifinals.
The Cardinals led by 10 midway through the fourth quarter before Trinity rallied and pulled to within one, 63-62, on Melvyn Little's three-pointer with 52 seconds left.
But Clark County had an answer. Corey Rogers converted a three-point play to make it a four-point spread, and the Cards hit a couple clutch free throws in the last 14 seconds.
"This was a great December ball game," Clark County Coach Scott Humphrey said. "Trinity, you can tell those kids are used to winning. They fought back and hit some incredible shots.
"But for our young kids, to have a run thrown at them like that, some haymakers, and have the poise to finish it off, shows great signs for the future. And I mean the next couple months, not the next couple years."
Clark County has a strong group of sophomores, but senior Robert Hatton led them with 25 points and six assists.
"That's not surprising at all," Humphrey said of Hatton's performance. "He took off at holiday tournament time last year. The kid's a winner; the best captain I've had in 11 years."
Rogers, a 6-4, 245-pound sophomore, had 22 points and six rebounds for the winners. Sophomore Robbie Stenzel had 12 points and six rebounds. Sophomore Vinny Zollo added seven points and six rebounds.
Trinity, suffering its first loss of the season, was led by Josh Sewell's 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Consolation games: Madisonville star and UK signee Jon Hood had 23 points and 13 rebounds as the Maroons beat Newport Central Catholic 51-46. Hood was 8-for-24 from the field. ... Morehead State signee Darren Ballou's 18 points and 10 rebounds sparked Adair County's 57-51 win over Fort Myers, Fla. ... Steven McFarland had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead Boone County past Knott Central 84-61. Tate Cox had 27 points for the Patriots. ... Chris Noble and Tyler Mullins combined for 22 points in Perry Central's 45-34 win over Hopkins Central.