Lexington Catholic Coach Brandon Salsman admitted he held his breath when Manual's Nick Reed got free for a good-look 12-foot leaner in the closing seconds of their quarterfinal game in the Republic Bank Holiday Classic Saturday night.
Reed missed the shot, Salsman exhaled, and host Lexington Catholic escaped with a 69-68 victory.
"Oh my goodness," a relieved Salsman said. "We put a little too much focus on their best player (Dwayne Sutton) and (Reed) was able to get a pretty good shot. We're fortunate to win."
Manual trailed by 10 early in the fourth quarter, but battled back and had a chance to win in regulation. But Sutton and Jarrett Harness couldn't get shots to fall and it went to overtime.
With the score tied 68-68, Reed missed a driving layup with 17 seconds left. Lexington Catholic's Tanner Johnson then misfired on a baseline jumper, but Reese Ryan got the rebound and was fouled.
Ryan hit one of two free throws to make it 69-68 with :05 left. That held up when Reed missed the final shot.
"Ryan's a football guy, so he knows how to get in there and bang," Salsman said. "That was a big rebound and a big free throw."
Lexington Catholic was led by Johnson's 16 points, but he got lots of help.
Jarod Griffin and Michael Talbott had 12 points each. Robert Dence had 10 points and 12 rebounds. Ryan contributed eight points, eight rebounds and five assists.
"Great team effort," Salsman said. "Everybody did what we asked them to do."
Sutton's 21 points and 12 rebounds led Manual. Harness added 14 points.
Newport Central Catholic 67, Pleasure Ridge Park 51: When NewCath led Pleasure Ridge Park 38-25 at halftime, the Thoroughbreds probably had a collective flashback.
They led PRP by 13 points at halftime in the King of the Bluegrass five days earlier, but wound up losing to the No. 2 Panthers 78-70.
There was no meltdown in the rematch. No. 11 NewCath opened the second half with a 14-0 blitz on its way to a surprisingly easy win.
NewCath junior guard Zach Pangallo said the Thoroughbreds invested "a lot of emotion" into repaying PRP.
"This was way better than last week," he said. "Last week PRP pressured us and we turned the ball over. Today we handled it a lot better in that 14-0 run. We were just playing our game, playing how we can play."
NewCath Coach Ron Dawn was delighted to see his team's energetic play. He thought they looked sluggish in a post-Christmas practice and in Friday's double-overtime victory over Cordia.
And after watching his Thoroughbreds waste halftime leads over PRP and No. 1 Ballard last week, he said he stressed to them "to make an effort to start the second half strong" against PRP this time around. "And they did."
NewCath's backcourt carried the scoring load. Pangallo had 18 points and six assists, and Tanner Moeves had 15 points, including three-of-five three-point shooting.
The Thoroughbreds' big guys did their share. Jake Schulte, a 6-foot-8 senior, had 14 points and eight rebounds. Drew McDonald, a 6-7 junior, had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Dawn said his team's best asset is its unselfishness.
"We've got a lot of guys who can score, and we're not afraid to make the extra pass," he said. "I love the way we share the ball."
PRP was led by LaMontray Harris' 16 points and nine rebounds. Khalid Raheem had 14 points.
Knott Central 54, Dixie Heights 52: On a night when Camron Justice struggled to find his shooting eye, he still made the play of the game to help keep Knott Central undefeated.
Dixie Heights led 52-51 and had the ball inside the final minute when Justice came up with a steal and breakaway layup to put the Patriots ahead 53-52.
But it was far from over.
In the closing seconds Knott Central made one of three free throws, and Dixie Heights missed four three-point attempts, the last two by star Brandon Hatton.
Knott Central escaped with its ninth win.
Evan Hall, a 6-7 junior, led the Patriots with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Justice, a 6-3 junior guard who has committed to Tennessee, had 21 points and five assists. But he was only 4-for-13 from three-point range.
The Colonels had their chances to knock down a game-winner in the final seconds, with Hatton firing up a last-second three attempt.
"That's one that makes you hold your breath," Justice said. "But that's basketball."