FRANKFORT — How about making it a fair fight by requiring Scott County star Trent Gilbert to wear handcuffs and oven mitts, at least in the first quarter?
Gilbert, who lit up Lexington Catholic with an early three-point barrage in Saturday's first round of the 11th Region, opened red-hot again against Madison Central in Saturday's semifinals.
The 6-foot-1 senior and Mr. Basketball finalist dropped three bombs in the first four minutes, spurring the No. 4 Cardinals to a big early lead and ultimately a 79-55 victory over the defending state champions.
Gilbert, who had 30 points against Lexington Catholic, rang up 30 on Madison Central despite sitting out the last 6:30 of the game.
Gilbert said whatever the arena or gym, if you're hot you're hot. "The first one went, and from then on I just felt like all the shots can go in. It's a 10-foot rim no matter where you're at."
Gilbert's early sharp shooting was contagious. He, Teddy Ware and Hines Jones combined to hit six threes in the first six minutes as the Cards built a 24-9 lead.
They were up 44-22 at halftime, and Gilbert had 21.
Madison Central never could mount a comeback as its two-year post-season winning streak came to an end.
Scott County Coach Billy Hicks said he told Indians Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. after the game "that any coach would trade places with you.
"They won 12 straight playoff games and they're still state champs until somebody else wins it."
Feldhaus said he knew Madison Central was in trouble when Jones, starting for Scott County in place of Matt Murphy (who was ejected from Friday's game), hit a pair of threes in the first quarter.
"They were on fire," he said. "And they're very good defensively, too.
"We struggled to score, and their big kid (7-1 Raekwon Long) was definitely a threat inside, too."
Long helped negate Madison Central's inside guys, Sam Jones and DeMarcus George.
Long had 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Jones and Ware also had 10 points. Tony Martini added seven points, six rebounds and four steals.
"Rae's getting better and better," Hicks said. "He and Tony were really tough inside against their pretty good post players."
Cameron Thomas, a 6-2 sophomore, led Madison Central with 20 points and four steals. Kirkland Humphrey, a junior, had 10 points. Jones, a junior added 10. George, a senior, had 13 rebounds.
"We've got a lot of these guys back, so hopefully we're learn from this and move on next year," Feldhaus said.
When the teams shook hands after the game, Feldhaus kidded Gilbert.
"I told him, 'I'm glad that you're gone. I'm tired of looking at you,'" Feldhaus said with a laugh.
"He's just an ultimate high school basketball player. He's worked his tail off to get stronger, and you can tell he lives in the gym. I've got the utmost respect for him."
So does Hicks.
"I'm glad Trent Gilbert's on our team," he said.
Scott Co. 79, Madison Central 55
SCOTT COUNTY (31-3) — Gilbert 30, Jones 10, Long 10, Ware 10, Martini 7, Crank 4, Kindred 5, Banks 1, Portwood 2.
MADISON CENTRAL (22-11) — Thomas 20, Jones 10, Humphrey 10, George 3, Johnson 6, Alexander 3, Williams 2, Miller 1.
Scott County 26 18 19 16—79
Madison Central 12 10 13 20—55