The Holmes boys' basketball team that developed an uncanny knack for winning close games during the post-season playoffs came out on the short end in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament on Friday.
Madison Central defeated Holmes, 65-61, in overtime, before a large crown at Rupp Arena that watched a classic battle between two teams trying to stay in contention for a state title.
“All losses hurt, especially in the post-season because there is no next game,” said Holmes coach Jason Booher. “So, yes, it hurts because we know we were that close to playing for a shot at the championship.”
The Bulldogs (32-2) had won four straight games by five points or less before the season-ending loss to Madison Central (30-5).
In the final minute of the fourth quarter, Holmes sophomore point guard James Bolden made a 3-point shot and two free throws that tied the score, 52-52, to send the game into overtime.
The Bulldogs fell behind, 59-53, with 1:22 left in the extra period, but they cut it to 62-61 when senior guard B.J. Coston made three free throws with 16 seconds left.
After Madison Central senior guard Dominque Hawkins sank a pair of foul shots to make it 64-61, the Indians had two players guarding Bolden to prevent him from getting an open shot.
Bolden passed the ball to Coston, who put up a 3-pointer that hit off the front of the rim. Demarcus George of Madison Central got the rebound and was fouled with three seconds left on the clock.
George missed his first free throw, but the horn sounded as he was shooting so the officials did not count that attempt. George missed again, but he made his final attempt to give the Indians a 65-61 lead.
Madison Central’s players let Bolden get off an uncontested three-point shot that missed as the final horn sounded.
Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. considered his team fortunate to come away with the victory.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a game like that where you have two teams just flat out laying it on the line,” Feldhaus said. “I pretty much know what to expect from my guys, but (Holmes) battled us the entire way. They did not make it easy on us for nothing.”
There were five ties and six lead changes during the game. The biggest lead by either team was seven points.
Hawkins, a candidate for Mr. Kentucky Basketball, scored a game-high 31 points for the Indians, who will play Hopkinsville in a semifinal game at 7:30 Saturday.
After going 3-of-14 from the field in the first half, Hawkins scored 24 points in the second half and overtime. In the fourth quarter, he had all 14 of his team’s points.
“I felt like I was just forcing it in the first half,” Hawkins said. “When it came to the second half, I was putting more timing in my jump shot, not just forcing it up.”
Hawkins missed a 3-point attempt in the final seconds of the fourth quarter that would’ve won the game. During the overtime period, however, he blocked a shot and raced up the court for a slam dunk, got an assist on a long pass that resulted in a layup and made two free throws.
The leading scorer for Holmes was Bolden with 29 points. He got 12 in the first half that ended with the Bulldogs holding a 25-22 lead and 10 in the fourth quarter, including the two free throws that sent the game into overtime.
“Sending it to overtime, that’s what we wanted,” Bolden said. “The momentum shifted our way going into the overtime. We just had to come out and execute.”
But Holmes had a shot blocked, committed turnovers on three consecutive possessions and missed a free throw during the first two minutes of overtime. That enabled Madison Central to take a 59-53 lead and the Indians held on for the victory.
“We missed a few free throws late in regulation, had a couple of turnovers that were crucial and didn’t get enough stops there at the end,” Booher said. “But what a battle that was. I’m sure nobody out there (in the arena) is going to ask for any money back.”
Bolden was the game’s leading rebounder with 13 and he had two assists. He committed eight turnovers, but that wasn’t too bad considering the defensive pressure Madison Central was putting on him.
University of Kentucky coach John Calipari reportedly talked to Bolden after the game. And nobody would be surprised if the Holmes sophomore is named to the state all-tournament team after Sunday’s championship game.
“He’s been leading us all year and he just continues to make plays,” Booher said. “I’m really proud of him. It’s fun watching him grow up and he’s just a sophomore so we’ve got him back the next two years.”
HOLMES 14-11-11-16-9 – 61
MADISON CENTRAL 9-13-16-14-13 – 65
HOLMES (32-3): Chames 3 3 9, Englemon 1 1 3, Bolden 9 6 29, Coston 1 7 9, Palmer 3 2 9, Housley 0 1 1, Hill 0 1 1. Totals: 17 21 61.
MADISON CENTRAL (30-5): Stocker 1 0 2, Parke 1 0 3, Bosley 7 8 23, Hawkins 10 9 31, Walker 0 3 3, George 1 1 3. Totals: 20 21 65.
Three-pointers: H – Bolden 5, Palmer. MC – Hawkins 2, Parke, Bosley.
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