LOUISVILLE — Top-rated Eastern proved itself against No. 2 Ballard for the third time this season, whipping the Bruins 66-52 in the 7th Region semifinals Friday night in front of a packed house in Bellarmine's Knights Hall.
Hundreds of fans, many of whom had tickets, were left out in the rain. Police were called to control the crowd.
Eastern (30-2) earned a date with Jeffersontown (23-7) in Tuesday's finals.
Eastern's senior-loaded lineup was too strong and experienced for Ballard.
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The Eagles never trailed after jumping to an early 10-point lead. Ballard closed the gap before halftime, but Eastern dominated the second half and won going away.
Eagles Coach Jason Couch didn't think his team executed its offense very well, "but the difference was our toughness.
"Our experienced guys weren't going to let us lose this game. I thought we did an excellent job guarding them in the halfcourt."
Lyonell Gaines led the winners with 22 points and eight rebounds. Remy Abell had 20 points, and 6-foot-8 Kameron Woods added eight points (including three dunks) and 14 rebounds.
Eastern shot 56 percent and won the battle of the boards 38-20.
Ballard senior DeVante Parker had 19 points, 13 in the first half. He didn't score at all in the third quarter.
Eastern beat Ballard 71-63 in the Louisville Invitational Tournament finals, and 84-81 in an up-and-down shootout.
The third go-around was more of a battle in the trenches. Ballard's younger guys, like freshmen Quentin Snider and Kelan Martin, and sophomores Lavonne Holland and Cam Lewis, were at a disadvantage against Eastern's seasoned veterans.
"This game wasn't as flashy as the other two games, and I think we're more equipped to play this style than Ballard," Couch said.
No. 15 Jeffersontown 73, Seneca 59: Tony Kimbro Jr. had maybe his best game of the season in leading the No. Chargers into Tuesday's region finals. The 6-5 senior hit 11 of 15 shots, including 3-for-4 on threes, scored 27 points and had 15 rebounds.
Seneca crept to within five points midway through the third quarter, but Kimbro answered with a three to give J-town some breathing room.
Cody Russell added 11 points for the Chargers, including a key three-pointer down the stretch.
Zach Price, a 6-10 senior who has signed with Louisville, still showed rust after sitting out more than a month with a leg injury. He had six points and five rebounds.
6th Region semifinals
No. 13 Bullitt East 73, Western 60: Hot-shooting Bullitt East took control early and never let go to earn a date with Pleasure Ridge Park in Monday's 6th Region finals.
"We shared the ball really well and shot well," Chargers Coach Troy Barr said.
Hayden Sweat had the hottest hand, scoring 26 points on 10-for-15 shooting, including 4-for-7 on three-pointers.
Rusty Troutman and Trey Rakes combined to hit five of nine threes and had 26 points between them. Corey Washburn, a 6-7 senior, muscled for 12 points and nine rebounds.
Western star Ryan Taylor, a transfer from Indianapolis, was plagued by foul trouble and never got rolling. He went to the bench with three fouls midway through the second quarter with just two points.
He picked up his fourth personal in the opening minute of the second half and sat down again. With the game out of reach, he scrambled to finish with 12 points and nine rebounds.
No. 8 Pleasure Ridge Park 60, Butler 48: PRP outscored the defending 6th Region champs 9-0 in the last two minutes to lock it up.
Max Clemons' 16 points and seven rebounds led the Panthers, who beat Butler 71-58 three weeks ago. Jake Simpson and Jeril Taylor (son of former PRP star Charlie Taylor) had 12 points each. Cortez Macklin (son of former PRP star Danyell Macklin) had five of his seven points in that closing 9-0 run.
BALLARD (29-4) — Parker 19, Snider 9, Lewis 6, Hardin 7, Holland 3, Biggers 1, Martin 4, Parrish 3.
EASTERN (30-2) — Gaines 22, Abell 20, Woods 8, Blade 7, Marks 9.
Ballard 9 16 11 16 — 52
Eastern 17 11 19 19 — 66
SENECA (16-11) — Shaw 13, Alexander 15, Harris 15, Abell 7, White 9.
JEFFERSONTOWN (23-6) — Kimbro 27, Russell 11, Cross 8, Dorsey 6, Ross 9, Price 6, Jackson 3, Hagan 3.
Seneca 13 8 19 19—59
Jeffersontown 16 20 12 25—73
BUTLER (16-14) — Wesson 15, Farrell 6, Phillips 4, Woodford 6, Northington 1, McReynolds 8, Butler 7, Stewart 1.
PLEASURE RIDGE PARK (21-8) — Clemons 16, Simpson 12, Taylor 12, Macklin 7, McDaniels 8, Sumpter 3, Anderson 2.
Butler 15 12 10 11—48
PRP 11 17 15 17—60
WESTERN (17-11) — Taylor 12, Toby 12, Harris 12, Lurry 2, Clay 10, McCraw 2.
BULLITT EAST (26-5) — Sweat 26, Rakes 11, Troutman 15, Washburn 12, Hardin 5, Willis 2, Hatfield 2.
Western 10 11 15 14—50
Bullitt East 21 15 20 17 —73