For what is supposed to be the third-best team in Louisville, Ballard looked pretty sharp in the Republic Bank Holiday Classic.
The Bruins overcame a six-point deficit to whip host Lexington Catholic 89-76 in the tournament finals Thursday night, remaining unbeaten through 14 games. Ballard's 89 points was just three below its average for the first three Holiday Classic games.
"I know everybody's talking about Jeffersontown and Eastern," Catholic Coach Brandon Salsman said, "but somebody'd better start talking about Ballard is all I can tell you, because that's a really good team right there."
Ballard, No. 18 in the Herald-Leader pre-season poll, was led by Quentin Snider with 18 points. Kelan Martin and Lavonne Holland scored 15 each, while Danny Yackey and tournament MVP DeVante Parker had 14 apiece.
The Bruins weathered a scoreless drought of 4:37 in the second quarter, watching a 29-22 lead evaporate into a 35-29 deficit.
No. 10 Catholic led 40-35 at halftime, then fell victim to some stunning firepower.
Ballard, 12-for-35 (34.3 percent) at the half, came out on fire in the second.
The Bruins made their first five shots and eight of their first nine. Included were four three-pointers — two each by Snider and Yackey.
A 20-6 start to the half put Ballard on top 55-46.
"We hit shots," Coach Chris Renner said. "I hate to say it — that's our staple right now. That's our signature. I know if you live by the three there's going to be times you die by it, and we're just going to have to ride with it."
Ballard outscored the Knights 36-18 from the three-point line, 23-4 at the free-throw line and 25-6 with points off turnovers.
Taylor Martin, a 6-foot-5 senior, led Catholic with 27 points. He hit 13 of 15 field-goal tries, many coming on drives through traffic. Scott Schuette hit all six of the Knights' three-pointers and totaled 23 points. Seth Beckham added 13 points.
A 9-0 run to end the third quarter put Catholic up 59-58.
The game was tied at 68 when Beckham made a free throw with 5:48 left, but Catholic never regained the lead.
Martin's driving bucket with 2:59 left brought the Knights to within 76-74. They didn't score again until 17 seconds remained, while Ballard scored 11 points in a row.
Holland netted Ballard's last eight points at the foul line.
"We weren't knocking down shots at first, but then we came back," said Parker, who has signed to play wide receiver for Louisville's football team next season. "Penetrating, kicking it out to the (open) person, and we started knocking down shots."
The second half, Ballard shot 15-for-30 (50 percent) from the field, including 8-for-15 from three-point range.
Catholic, 18-for-29 (62.1 percent) at the half, shot 15-for-39 (38.5 percent) thereafter.
"It's unfortunate we couldn't get into the groove there, but those things happen," Salsman said. "It's December."
The Knights may have just worn out, as four of five starters played more than 261/2 minutes. Ballard had eight players with double-digit minutes.
"These things are nice to put on your trophy case and put in the record book," Renner said. "But when it comes down to it, it's about what happens at the end of the year."
BALLARD (14-0) — Martin 15, Snider 18, Parker 14, Holland 15, Yackey 14, Parrish 3, Lewis 8, Hardin 2.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (11-2) — Floyd 2, Woomer 5, Martin 27, Beckham 13, Schuette 23, Whitman 4, Keller 2.
Ballard 21 14 23 31—89
Lexington Catholic 18 22 19 17—76
All-tournament — DeVante Parker (MVP), Quentin Snider and Lavonne Holland, Ballard; Taylor Martin, Seth Beckham and Scott Schuette, Lexington Catholic; George Fant, Warren Central; Daniel Kiesling, Henry Clay; Jake Thelen, Covington Catholic; Timmy Knipp, Elliott County; Chane Behanan and Darius Clement, Bowling Green; Adam Smith and Maurice Williams, Fayette Co. (Ga.); Clay Cinnamon, Mercer Co.