After falling behind to open the fourth quarter, No. 3 Henry Clay used an 11-0 run to take command against No. 9 Ballard and came away with a 61-57 win Monday night at home.
Justin Mitchell led three Blue Devils in double digits with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Isaiah “Pun” Tisdale had 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Jordan Houston finished just shy of a double-double, too, with 10 points and eight boards.
Jake Ramsey scored seven of nine Ballard points spanning the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter, including a basket to put the Bruins up 48-45 with about seven minutes to play. Henry Clay responded with its game-changing run, capped by three straight buckets in transition to go up 56-48.
Henry Clay’s aggressiveness on the glass keyed the rally. It finished with a 38-30 advantage on the glass, including a 24-20 edge on the offensive end. Several of those offensive rebounds immediately resulted in Blue Devil points.
“They came and knocked us in the mouth and we kinda hung in there and got some ‘tough plays,’ I call ’em,” Henry Clay Coach Daniel Brown said.
Brown lauded the play of Mitchell, a sophomore, in the game and overall as of late. He’s stepped up to become an asset on which senior playmakers Tisdale and Lee Ridgeway (nine points, six boards and five assists on Monday) can rely.
“(He’s) showing why he’s one of the best sophomores in the state,” Brown said. “He’s averaging the last 10 games about 12 points and eight rebounds. He’s become our third wheel.”
Jamil Wilson, Ballard’s leading scorer at 18.5 points per game coming in, was held to 10 points on 5-for-13 shooting. He picked up his second foul less than four minutes into the first quarter and was playing with four in the final minutes.
In addition to the foul trouble, Brown employed multiple defensive alignments to keep Wilson in check. He wasn’t sure his guys could stay in front of him the entire night playing straight up.
“I thought ‘we have to go zone, that little point guard’s fast,’” Brown said. “ ... I’m a man-to-man guy but I’m a realist.”
The Blue Devils are in the midst of a tough stretch in which they face eight straight top 25 opponents. They’re 3-0 so far after wins at No. 9 Trinity and over No. 11 Lafayette last week. Next up, No. 22 Madison Central on Tuesday, followed by a 42nd District tilt at No. 5 Scott County on Friday.
Central was the last team to beat Dunbar, No. 1 in the latest Cantrall Ratings. Henry Clay’s won four straight since falling to the Bulldogs Jan. 14 on the road. With the Blue Devils finding their stride, the rematch in Al Prewitt Gymnasium on Feb. 11 should be something to see.
“We went over there and got beat by the top team in the state at their house,” Brown said. “ ... We just watched that film and said, you know what, we get one more shot at it. Let’s see what happens next Thursday. We know they’re good but we feel like we can play with them.”
Henry Clay 61, Ballard 57
Ballard (15-8) — Douglas 10, Patterson 11, Tisby 2, Alvey 10, Ramsey 12, Darby 2, Wilson 10.
Henry Clay (20-4) — Ridgeway 9, Houston 10, Tisdale 13, Price 9, Mitchell 14, Jones 6.