High School Basketball

Mark Story: Madison Central's Bosley enjoying life as The Guy Who Hit The Shot That Won State

Madison Central's Ken-Jah Bosley joined an exclusive club by hitting the state championship game-winning shot March 10.
Madison Central's Ken-Jah Bosley joined an exclusive club by hitting the state championship game-winning shot March 10.

RICHMOND — On the Monday after Ken-Jah Bosley hit the three-point dagger that made Madison Central the 2013 Kentucky boys' basketball state champion, the senior walked into the school cafeteria for lunch.

His classmates gave him a spontaneous standing ovation.

"I really didn't expect that," Bosley said Thursday morning, smiling. "That was pretty cool."

As of Friday, it has been exactly two months since Bosley, a slight 6-foot guard, joined one of the more select historical fraternities in Kentucky high school hoops: Players who have hit game-winning shots in a boys' state championship game.

On a Sunday afternoon in Rupp Arena, Bosley arched a three-point jumper over two Ballard defenders that ripped the net with 2.2 seconds left. It gave Madison Central a 65-64 lead and — after a Ballard desperation heave missed — the school's first boys' hoops state title.

Since then, Bosley has been riding a wave as The Guy Who Hit The Shot That Won State.

People who were in Rupp Arena for the state finals tell Bosley how his shot made them feel. "My sister (Shadae) told me she was hugging random people from here she didn't even know," Bosley said. "That is one of the cool things. It brought the school together."

People who were not in Rupp Arena tell Bosley what his shot made them do. Some college students from Madison Central were on a beach on spring break when their old high school was cutting down the nets in Rupp.

"They said they sang the Madison Central (school) song all the way in Panama," Bosley says. "That, to me, is a crazy story."

In, oh, 75 years you might find someone in Richmond who cannot provide the exact play-by-play of the frantic final seconds of the game that made Madison Central the 2013 state champions.

How Ballard, having seen all but two points of a 16-point lead evaporate, overthrew an inbounds pass. How Madison Central's George Walker came up with the ball near midcourt, then got it to Indians star Dominique Hawkins.

How Hawkins made a spin move, drove relentlessly toward the basket, only to bounce the ball off his foot — and right into the hands of Bosley along the right sideline.

How Bosley took one bounce to his right, rose high and fired over two onrushing Ballard defenders.

How the ball nestled through the net with 2.2 seconds showing on the Rupp Arena clocks and bedlam engulfing the stands.

"As soon as it came out of my hand, I was like, 'That's good!'" Bosley said. "I knew it was going to be good."

Pause. Smile.

"And I knew if it wasn't going to be good, it was going to be in and pop out, a dramatic miss," he said.

Two months later, Bosley has lost count of how many times he's been asked to watch video of his late-game heroics with others.

"I've watched it two, three times by myself, but usually I just watch the shot if somebody requests that they want to watch the shot with me," Bosley says.

When Bosley hit a game-winning shot in a Kentucky boys' hoops title game, he joined a rarefied club. Since Paul Andrews' famous half-court shot won the 1982 state title for Laurel County, the only other players who hit shots in the last seconds that won the boys' state championship game were Henry Clay's Greg Bates (1983), Pulaski County's Shannon Fraley (1986), and Christian County's Veonta Lewis (2011).

"I said at our banquet, he hit the biggest shot in Madison Central history, but everybody in the state is going to remember it, too," said Madison Central Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. "Ken-Jah is very knowledgeable about high school sports. I think he gets it (about the magnitude of his shot)."

To the frustration of many at Madison Central, one thing that Bosley's state tournament heroics have not yet done is shake loose an NCAA Division I basketball scholarship offer. So he will visit NCAA Division II schools Kentucky Wesleyan and Northwood (Mich). He plans to announce his college choice May 19.

Once that is done, a player who spent most of his childhood living in Indianapolis is pumped to represent the Bluegrass State in this summer's Kentucky-Indiana All-Star Games.

In the meantime, I wondered whether there is any downside to life after hitting a shot that makes your school the state champion.

"The only downside, to me, I feel like some people look up to me too high," Bosley said. "I'm just a normal person. I'm not a superstar. ... I just made a shot. I just made a shot. That's all it is in the big picture."

After Madison Central's celebratory pep rally after the state tournament, Bosley was approached by a couple with a special-needs child.

"The kid was saying how much what we did meant to him," Bosley said. "He couldn't really explain it too well, but he tried. That gave me chills. Even people that aren't as blessed as us were moved by what we did. I literally could have cried."

The Guy Who Hit The Shot That Won State says that moment felt better even than being on the receiving end of an impromptu standing O in the Madison Central lunchroom.

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