High School Basketball

Holmes hurries past Knights

The final score indicated a rout, Holmes over Lexington Catholic 72-56 in Friday's quarterfinals of the National City Boys' Sweet Sixteen.

And it was, thanks to Holmes' outstanding shooting and a knock-your-socks-off effort on defense.

Rout doesn't equal embarrassment, though.

While Holmes (34-2) will return for Saturday's semifinals, Catholic saw its season end in Rupp Arena, a spot few thought they had a chance to reach.

"Look at the last six games we played," Knights Coach Brandon Salsman said. "Tates Creek, top 25; Lafayette, gets their best player back; Henry Clay, top 25; Madison Central, top 25; Scott County, No. 1; Bowling Green, 27 wins; and Holmes. I'll ask anybody out there, if you can find a group of kids who can compete against that better than mine, show 'em to me."

Holmes, runner-up to Mason County last year, looked unbeatable through the first half of Friday's game. Holmes led 27-9 through one quarter and 45-23 at halftime.

The Bulldogs shot 63 percent (17-for-27) in the half, 58.3 percent (7-for-12) from three-point range. They finished the game at 54.7 percent (29-for-53) overall, 53.3 percent (8-for-15) on three-pointers.

JaMel Riley sank three bombs, finishing with 15 points and six assists. Ricardo Johnson hit a three and a pair of fourth-quarter dunks en route to 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Ricardo's brother, Jeremiah, hit two threes and a fourth-quarter dunk, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. And Elijah Pittman had a trey, two fourth-quarter dunks, 12 points and nine rebounds.

Coach David Henley saw another phase as key, though: Defense.

"This is our third straight Final Four," he said. "There's not many schools or teams that have done that. And the reason we've been here is our kids play defense."

For evidence, Henley cited Dominique Johnson, who was scoreless, and Brandon Housley, who had eight points.

"Those are probably the big difference-makers in the game because those two guarded Vee Sanford tonight, and Vee had six points," Henley said.

Ricardo Johnson eventually took some of the responsibility of guarding Sanford, but it was Dominique Johnson and Housley who set the tone from the get-go.

Sanford, who came into the tournament averaging 22.4 points a game, was 2-for-16 from the field. He had six rebounds and four assists to go with his six points.

"It was fun because I never guarded anyone as tough as Vee," Dominique Johnson said. "Just work hard, that's what it's about. Make sure I'm doing my job for the team. It ain't about scoring the most points or being the best player. It's about doing your job."

Tanner Peurach led Catholic with 15 points, all in the second half. Taylor Botkin scored 14 and Jaylen Beckham had 12. Catholic shot 31.3 percent (20-for-64).

The first quarter was similar to the 2008 semifinals matchup between the teams, except that it was Catholic that dominated last year by bolting to a 19-4 lead. Holmes rallied for a 57-50 victory in that game.

Friday, the Bulldogs led by 24 in the first half, 39-15.

"I just told the kids you have to keep chipping away," Salsman said. "We had goals set each quarter, and they achieved them."

So well that a 15-5 advantage in the third quarter cut the deficit to 50-38.

Peurach opened the fourth-quarter by pulling the Knights (26-8) to within 10 points.

Catholic's defense, primarily its press, forced eight consecutive turnovers.

But Holmes not only solved the press, it exploited it.

The Bulldogs scored nine points in a row and 16 of 18 to blow out to a 66-40 lead. Included were three consecutive dunks.

"I felt like we were in the ballgame, and we just ran out of gas," Salsman said. "We had to fight so hard to get back in the third quarter."

Rather than an embarrassment, Salsman saw his Knights as special.

"Of all the special teams I've coached, from Bourbon County to here, this one," Salsman said, his voice choking, "this one ... this one ranks supreme."

Holmes (72)

NAME mi fg-a 3-pt ft-a rb a pf tp

Mayfield 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Riley 28 6-10 3-5 0-0 2 6 3 15

Slusher 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0

J. Johnson 30 6-10 2-3 0-0 12 3 0 14

Pittman 18 5-9 1-2 1-1 9 1 3 12

Housley 20 4-6 0-0 0-0 3 3 3 8

Jones 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

D. Johnson 13 0-2 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 0

R. Johnson 30 5-11 1-2 4-4 10 3 2 15

K. Rice 14 3-5 1-2 1-4 2 1 1 8

J. Rice 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0

Reese 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0

Hayes 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0

Team 2

Totals 160 29-53 8-15 6-9 42 17 16 72

Lexington Catholic (56)

NAME mi fg-a 3-pt ft-a rb a pf tp

Muncy 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Ramsey 1 1-1 0-0 1-1 1 0 0 3

Sanford 31 2-16 0-3 2-2 6 4 2 6

Martin 25 2-6 0-1 0-0 3 1 0 4

Schuette 17 0-7 0-5 0-0 1 0 0 0

Beckham 25 3-13 0-4 6-12 5 0 0 12

Botkin 28 4-8 2-3 4-4 6 0 4 14

Talbott 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Peurach 25 7-12 0-0 1-2 3 0 3 15

Floyd 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Conrad 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Leach 1 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2

Team 7

Totals 160 20-64 2-16 14-21 32 5 9 56

Holmes 27 18 5 22—72

Lexington Catholic 9 14 15 18—56

Field-goal shooting: Holmes 54.7, Lexington Catholic 31.3. Free-throw shooting: Holmes 66.7, Lexington Catholic 66.7. Technicals: none. Turnovers: Holmes 24 (R. Johnson 8, J. Johnson 6, Pittman 2, D. Johnson 2, Riley 1, Slusher 1, Housley 1, K. Rice 1, E. Rice 1, Team 1 ), Lexington Catholic 13 (Martin 4, Sanford 3, Beckham 3, Botkin 2, Schuette 1). Blocked shots: Holmes 5 (J. Johnson 2, Pittman 2, R. Johnson 1), Lexington Catholic 4 (Peurach 2, Martin 1, Beckham 1). Steals: Holmes 5 (R. Johnson 3, Riley 1, D. Johnson 1), Lexington Catholic 12 (Schuette 5, Sanford 3, Beckham 2, Martin 1, Botkin 1). Officials: Ron Price, Mike Black, Alfred Smith. Attendance: n/a.Records: Holmes 34-2, Lexington Catholic 26-8.

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