Bryan Station started the season as the hottest team in Lexington, winning its first 11 games and its first 16 games against Kentucky competition. They cooled off, going 7-5 over the last month of play, and on Wednesday night met a Henry Clay team that nearly upset them at home when they last met and was playing its best basketball of the season.
Upset alert? The Defenders missed the memo; they never trailed in a 65-52 victory over the Blue Devils in the semifinals of the 42nd District, earning a 3-0 sweep of their rivals this season and punching a ticket to the 11th Region tournament at Eastern Kentucky University next week.
Eric “Boss” Boone led the Defenders with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Terrance Clayton-Murphy had 15 points — 11 coming at the free-throw line — and Jalen Burbage had 13 to help lift Station to the 42nd District finals for the first time since 2015.
Henry Clay will miss the 11th Region tournament for the third time in the last 10 seasons.
Boone, who on Friday was named a Mr. Basketball finalist, drew the assignment of guarding Blue Devils star sophomore Marques Warrick for most of the night. Warrick finished with a team-high 19 points and was 8-for-17 from the field, but he committed five turnovers and was 2-for-7 from behind the three-point arc.
“I can’t say enough about Boone, man. He’s a complete basketball player,” Bryan Station Coach Tommy Johnson said. “Defense is one of the things that he prides himself on. I don’t want to take anything away from Warrick, he’s a heck of a player and can shoot the heck out of the ball, but Boss, he’s a senior and he didn’t want to go home.”
Bryan Station will meet either Scott County or Frederick Douglass in the finals on Friday. Scott County hadn’t lost to an in-state team this season and was favored to advance in the second semifinal Wednesday night.
The Cardinals swept Bryan Station in the regular season and have won five straight against the Defenders.
“Honestly, I don’t think our guys have a mental block,” Johnson said. “We’re competitors. We’ve just got to make sure we play two halves. The last six times that we’ve played them, the last two years, we’ve always put together one good half, and never two. We’ve just got to put together two good halves.”
Henry Clay trailed by 10 points in the final seconds of the third quarter but capped a 13-7 run with a pair of Ramond Jackson free throws to pull within 50-48 with 3:14 left. Station then went on a 10-1 run over the next two minutes.
“It feels good,” said Boone. “I ain’t never been to the region (tournament), so this is big time.”
He marked the occasion with a one-handed dunk as time expired.
“It was a statement,” Boone said. “To let ’em know we’re here.”
Bryan Station 65, Henry Clay 52
Henry Clay (18-12) — Jalen Williams 1, Marques Warrick 19, Keaston Brown 14, Andreus Green 14, Harris Hawkins 2, Ramond Jackson 2
Bryan Station (23-7) — Terrance Clayton-Murphy 15, Kendrick Curry 2, Jalen Burbage 13, Eric Boone 20, Keaton Simpson 3, Myles Morones 12