When the Mr. Basketball ballot was released Friday morning, Mason Blair’s name wasn’t one of the two listed as co-player of the year in the 15th Region. That made him mad.
The Johnson Central senior took his aggression out on Tates Creek, scoring 45 points in a 90-81 victory in Lexington on Friday night. He was 13 of 27 from the field, going 6-for-17 from beyond the three-point arc. His first triple broke Chris Harrison’s 26-year-old record (145) for most threes made in a single season.
Blair will take a 32.9 scoring average into the Golden Eagles’ 57th District opener against cross-county rival Paintsville next week. He’s 51 points away from a 1,000-point season.
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“I pretty mad about that,” Blair said of being passed over for 15th Region honors. “I came up here motivated today and I was ready to put in some work. … The numbers speak for themselves.”
Johnson Central tied its school record for wins (23) in the regular season with the victory. The Golden Eagles got 22 points from Jacob Rice and 19 from Cole Crace. Blair’s wild scoring nights — earlier this season he broke the school record with 60 points in a game — grab the headlines, but other guys are starting to round into form down the stretch.
“Towards the end of the season here we’ve been playing pretty good,” Blair said. “We’ve strung a bunch of wins together going into tournament time. Everybody’s clicking right now.”
Blair is one half of a set of twins. His brother, Jarrett, doesn’t receive much playing time but is Mason’s biggest supporter.
“I’ve always knew he could do it,” Jarrett said. “I’ve been watching him ever since we were little. … He just keeps breaking records, and it’s amazing.”
Johnson Central’s soccer team, on which Jarrett starred as a defender, reached the state tournament in the fall. Johnson Central had a streak of four straight Sweet Sixteen appearances snapped by Lawrence County last season; the brothers hope to make one final trip to Rupp next Month.
The Golden Eagles’ style varies from many in the 15th. They love to push tempo, press and shoot as many times from behind the arc as possible; they attempted 28 triples to 19 for Tates Creek on Friday.
“Me and Cole are always trying to get some buckets,” Mason said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the other team. … I’ve not really looked at it, but I’d say as a team we’re probably on top of the state in points per game.”
His guess wasn’t far off; Johnson Central’s 78.7 points a night were seventh most in the state this season coming into Friday. Jarrett hasn’t contributed much to that figure; he’s averaging 1.5 points in 13 games played for the Golden Eagles.
“He scores with the ladies,” Mason said with a laugh.
Isaiah Allen, a sophomore, led Tates Creek with 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting.
Johnson Central 90, Tates Creek 81
Johnson Central (23-6) — A. Davis 3, Crace 19, Blair 45, Rice 22, G. Davis 1.
Tates Creek (4-25) — Bell 13, Allen 23, Taylor 18, Patterson 17, Hardin 2, Johnson 4, Joyce 2, Bosley 2.
Boys’ single-season three-pointers
151: x-Mason Blair (Johnson Central, 2017)
145: Chris Harrison (Tollesboro, 1991)
125: Devan Horn (Allen Central, 2015)
123: Brandon Johnson (Jeffersontown, 2015)
122: Dontaie Smith (North Hardin, 1998)