High School Basketball

Sweet Sixteen: John Hardin dominates 4th quarter to knock off Johnson Central

John Hardin's Brandon Price (3) put up a shot over Johnson Central's Braxton Blair in the second quarter. Price hit 12 of 14 free throws and led John Hardin with 18 points.
John Hardin's Brandon Price (3) put up a shot over Johnson Central's Braxton Blair in the second quarter. Price hit 12 of 14 free throws and led John Hardin with 18 points. Lexington Herald-Leader

As the game clock neared 5:00 Thursday night, it became Daveon Greene time in Rupp Arena.

Greene, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound junior, scored nine consecutive points in 67 seconds in what proved to be a devastating run as John Hardin upended Johnson Central 49-36 to complete first-round play in the PNC/KHSAA Boys' State Tournament.

"Honestly, as a team, we still had jitters (coming) out of halftime," Greene said. "We all needed to get those jitters out. I let my jitters out and I just started to play basketball."

The Bulldogs (23-8), No. 9 in Dave Cantrall's rankngs of tournament teams, will take an 11-game winning streak into Friday's quarterfinals matchup against second-rated Scott County.

No. 16 Johnson Central finished with a 25-11 record.

Brandon Price, 12-for-14 at the free-throw line, led John Hardin with 18 points and six assists. Greene totaled 12 points and nine rebounds.

Shane Hall, a 6-7 sophomore, led Johnson Central with 11 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Dalton Adkins had 10 points.

Ervin Montgomery's basket to open the fourth-quarter scoring put John Hardin ahead to stay, 32-30.

After a Truman Salyer free throw made it 32-31, the Bulldogs ripped off 11 straight points.

Greene scored the first nine and Jeremy Harness capped it with a drive with 3:24 left for a 43-31 lead.

"Defense leads to easy points," said Price, who assisted on the second of Greene's baskets in the nine-point run.

"Things started to go our way when we played defense better in the second half," Greene said.

Emphasizing that fact, the next three points came when Greene stole a pass, raced in for a layup and was fouled.

"Things didn't go well for us on the offensive end in the first half, but we've talked to our kids all year about mental toughness and I thought this came through for us again tonight, just like it did in the regional tournament," John Hardin Coach Mark Wells said. "We gutted it out. We were able to hold on at the end."

In a half of spurts, John Hardin was up 18-17 at intermission, led by the 5-7 Price with 10.

Johnson Central scored the last six points of the first quarter to lead 12-6.

Adkins, a 5-6 freshman, had eight of the Golden Eagles' points.

John Hardin scored the first 12 of the second quarter for an 18-12 lead.

Then, Johnson Central's Hall tallied the last five of the half.

John Hardin struggled from the field in the first half, going 7-for-27 (25.9 percent), including 0-for-7 from three-point range. Johnson Central shot 7-for-16 (43.8 percent), missing its only two three-point tries.

Things stayed tight through another quarter, which ended in a 30-all tie.

"We just weren't able to make plays at the end," Golden Eagles Coach Tommy McKenzie said.

McKenzie said his team has to score transition baskets. When early foul troubles led him to substitute size for quickness, the result was fewer chances to get out and run.

"We didn't shoot it the way we wanted to shoot it, didn't make plays — especially in the fourth quarter — that we wanted to make plays. ... It just wasn't our night," McKenzie said. "Hats off to John Hardin. When we gave them opportunities to make plays and take control of the game in the fourth quarter, I thought they did that."

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