High School Basketball

Madison Central wins Sweet 16 title with a miracle

Madison Central celebrated winning the state championship title in Rupp Arena in Lexington Sunday. Photo by Pablo Alcala
Madison Central celebrated winning the state championship title in Rupp Arena in Lexington Sunday. Photo by Pablo Alcala

Allen Feldhaus Jr. had just watched his Madison Central basketball team win the 96th KHSAA Sweet Sixteen championship in improbable — impossible? — fashion. The Indians rallied from four points down in the last 20 seconds to beat Ballard 65-64 on Ken-Jah Bosley's three-pointer with five seconds left, igniting a deafening roar in Rupp Arena among the 17,351 fans, most of whom had relocated from Madison County on this Sunday afternoon.

Feldhaus is an old-school coach who thinks games are won with toughness, defense and more toughness.

But after watching his players battle back from the brink to beat Holmes, Hopkinsville and Ballard the past three days, he thought there might have been a higher power at work, too.

"I truly believe we were a team of destiny," he said. "I truly believe that. What else can you say? The last three games we were down but somehow found a way to win. It's amazing."

Ballard Coach Chris Renner, whose team led by 16 points with five minutes left in the third quarter, had the same notion: "You almost do wonder, was it destiny? Was it destiny for Madison Central to win it?"

If good luck is the result of hard work and preparation, then Madison Central's championship destiny was the result of hard work, preparation and the players' belief in Feldhaus' system.

No one exemplifies that belief more than Sweet Sixteen Most Valuable Player Dominique Haw kins, a 6-foot-1 senior who might have won Mr. Basketball honors with his remarkable play (including 107 points and 35 rebounds) during the tournament.

"I believe in my coach, I love my coach and I'd do anything for my coach," Hawk ins said. "He teaches us to be tough and never give up. That's what got us this biggest win in school history."

The players believe in themselves and one another, too.

Bosley, for example, had missed 20 of 23 three-point attempts coming into Sunday, so his confidence should have been shot. But after a Ballard turnover with 15 seconds left gave Madison Central one last shot at victory, Bosley was more than willing to take it.

"No hesitation," he said. "I was going to shoot it."

Hawkins wasn't surprised by his buddy's resolve.

"Every teammate has 100 percent faith in everybody else, and we never lose that faith," he said. "Boz hit an amazing shot that I'll remember the rest of my life, and maybe all these thousands of people here will remember it too."

While Feldhaus has been a tough, no-nonsense coach for 27 years, the last 20 at Madison Central, you can see that he's mellowed a bit. How else to explain the way he was able to handle Quan Taylor, the free spirit among the Indians' eight seniors.

Taylor didn't start against Hopkinsville in the semifinals Saturday night because he was late to a team meeting earlier that day.

His excuse?

He was out buying neon green socks that would add a bit of flair to his uniform.

Feldhaus laughed about it after Taylor, a shaky free-throw shooter, was 4-for-4 at the line, and had eight points and five rebounds against Hopkinsville. The 6-4 jumping jack came up big against Ballard, too, with 16 points, including 4-for-5 free throws and 12 rebounds. "It's gotta be the socks," Taylor said with a smile and a giggle. "It had to be the socks — good luck."

The Feldhaus family could have used some good luck during the Sweet Sixteen in 1981. That's when Mason County, coached by Allen Sr., lost to Simon Kenton in the championship game. Allen Jr. was on that team.

After Madison Central won the state title Sunday, Allen Jr. wanted to share it with the man who made it all possible.

"I love basketball because of him," Allen Jr. said of his father. "I always knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Coaching was in my blood.

"I hope this kind of helps him erase that sting when we got beat in 1981."

By the way, Allen Sr. and Allen Jr. are the first father and son to coach in the state tournament finals.

Let's call that destiny, too.

Fans at Madison Central's boys' basketball championship game against Ballard in Rupp Arena

Game photos from the championship matchup Sunday

Video replay: Watch how Madison Central won

Madison Central fans cheer team to championship

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Madison Central's Ken-Jah Bosley after his three-pointer with under five seconds left gave his team the Boys' State Tournament title with a 65-64 win over Ballard.

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Madison Central star Dominique Hawkins talks to media after his team's dramatic 65-64 win over Ballard in Boys' State Tournament final.

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Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus, Jr. talks to media on floor of Rupp Arena after his team came from 16 points down to beat Ballard 65-64 in finals of Boys' State Tournament.

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Madison Central's Quan Taylor, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds, talks about the Indians winning the state championship.

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