As the 2019 Chad Gardner Law King of the Bluegrass came to a close, it was a pair of local school’s vying for the title with No. 17 North Oldham taking on No. 6 Ballard, the tournament’s all-time wins leader. The game was loaded with young talent as four freshman and a sophomore started in the Championships matchup. It was a senior, Terrence McDaniels, that came into the game as the Bruins lowest scoring starter, that would make a huge impact for Ballard as they claimed their fifth all-time King of the Bluegrass title. The win would also keep the KOB in the Kentucky’s loaded 7th region for the 10th time in the last 20 years.
A thrilling first 2:30 of play saw the two teams all knotted up on three occasions with a pair of lead changes. Dallas Roberts hit a pair of three-pointers and Thomas Ashton added the next five points as North Oldham put together a 11-0 run midway through the first quarter to lead 17-9. Josh Minkins would get the Bruins within five points on the next possession and Lewis Richards would add eight points late in the first quarter to cut the North Oldham led to 23-22 at the quarter break. A Gabe Sisk 3-pointer on Ballard’s first possession of the second quarter would put the Bruins back ahead 25-23. A three-pointer by North Oldham’s Austin Carr-Cole would tie the game back at 29-29 midway through the second quarter. Another 3-pointer by Thomas Ashton would put North Oldham back ahead at 34-33, but the lead wouldn’t last as Terrence McDaniel’s basket on the Bruins’ next possession put Ballard back ahead. A basket by Chaunte Marrero at the buzzer would send Ballard to the locker room leading 40-36.
A pair of buckets by Ballard’s Maker Bar early in the second half were key in a 8-2 Bruins run to expand their lead to 48-38. Jack Edelen’s basket midway through the quarter saw the Ballard lead grow to 12 points as 54-42. A 5-0 run by North Oldham cut the Ballard lead to 47-54 on a pair of Ian Higdon free throws. Ballard countered with their own 6-1 run expanding the lead back to double digits at 60-48 with less than two minutes remaining in the quarter. Chaunte Marrero’s basket in the closing seconds of the quarter kept Ballard ahead 65-53 at the end of the third quarter. The Mustangs would hold Ballard scoreless for the first two minutes of the final quarter but were unable to get any closer than 8 points missing 2-of-3 early field goals and a pair of free throws. Three minutes later Terrence McDaniels putback expanded Ballard’s lead to a game-high 15 points. It was not until the final minute of play that North Oldham could cut the Ballard lead to back to 10 points, but it was too late as time expired with the Bruins leading 82-72. The victory was a tournament record 63rd victory for the Bruins and gave them a tournament record 5th King of the Bluegrass Championship.
Ballard was led by freshman All-Tournament Team selection Jack Edelen with 18 points. Terrence McDaniels added 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Bruins. Gabe Sisk, also an All-Tournament Team selection for the Bruins scored 10 points. North Oldham was led by the tournament’s Bob White Most Valuable Player Justin Powell with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds. All-Tournament Team selection Tyler Higdon added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Mustangs.
Our second semifinal matchup paired 4th ranked Collins and 6th ranked Ballard. It was the youthful Bruins who pulled off the upset to advance to their sixth King of the Bluegrass Championship game and the first since 2013.
The opening quarter of play featured a trio of lead changes in the opening three minutes. It was the Bruins who got on the board first with a Jack Edelen putback on Ballard’s opening possession. A Tyson Turner 3-pointer would push Collins ahead 5-2 early before a 10-2 Ballard run put the Bruins in control at 12-7 midway through the quarter. Marcellus Vail and Dayvion McKnight would combine for the next eight points for the Titans as they cut the Ballard lead to 18-17 by the end of the quarter. Jalen Burford would open the second quarter with three three-point buckets for the Bruins as their lead quickly grew to 29-17. The Ballard lead would grow to as many as 16 points following a Jack Edelen three-pointer with 2:17 remaining in the half. Ballard would take a 45-30 lead to the locker room at halftime.
The Collins defense took over in the opening minutes of the second half forcing four Ballard turnovers and holding the Bruins scoreless for more than two minutes as they cut the Ballard lead to 36-45. Ballard quickly recovered with a couple long range jumpers to help them extend their lead back to a game-high 16 points on two different occasions. A Titans’ push late in the third quarter saw Collins get as close as 11 points again in the closing 90 seconds of the quarter. Marcellus Vail would hit three big three-point baskets for Collins in the opening three minutes of the fourth quarter to get Collins within 7 points at 66-73 with five minutes to play. Five straight points from Ballard’s Lewis Richards gave the Bruins some breathing room at 81-72 with 3:03 remaining. Another Marcellus Vail three-pointer with 1:16 remaining would pull the Titans back within six points. A pair of missed free throws for Ballard gave Collins a late opportunity and Dayvion McKnight cut the lead to four points with just 33.9 seconds remaining. Another set of free throws by McKnight with 18.2 seconds left would keep Collins within four points but they couldn’t get any closer. Ballard’s Josh Minknis Jr. would put the exclamation point on the win with a dunk at the buzzer sending Ballard to the Championship with an 88-81 victory.
Ballard had six players score in double-digits led by Jack Edelen’s 17 points and Jalen Buford’s 16 points. Maker Bar earned Central Bank Player of the Game honor for the Bruins with a 14 point and 13 rebounds performance. Marcellus Vail led Collins with 28 points and 7 rebounds and Dayvion McKnight added 27 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists.
Our first semifinal of the evening matched the 17th ranked North Oldham against top-ranked Male. It was the Mustangs who pulled off the upset over three-time KOB Champion Male to advance to the Championship in just their second tournament experience.
A back-and-forth opening quarter saw the teams exchange the lead six times. Noah Courtney’s basket on the opening possession gave Male an early lead but Dallas Roberts countered with a three-pointer for North Oldham to put the Mustangs back ahead. Neither team would lead by more than two points over the first 7:50 of play. A late three-pointer by Justin Powell put North Oldham ahead 17-14 at the quarter break and jump started a 9-2 run that put North Oldham ahead 22-16. A pair of three-pointers midway through the second quarter propelled the Mustangs lead to as many as 10 points at 34-24. Male couldn’t get any closer than 7 points for the remainder of the half and Powell’s late basket sent North Oldham to halftime with a 43-33 lead.
The Mustangs would easily hold onto their 10-point lead for the first five minutes of the second half with Male never getting any closer than eight points. The Bulldogs finally turned things around with Tyren Moore scoring seven points in a 10-0 spurt late in the third quarter. Dallas Roberts would score the next five points to put North Oldham back ahead at 59-54 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter. Justin Powell would add five of the Mustang’s next seven points as their lead swelled back to as many of 10 points mid-way through the third quarter. A second 6-0 spurt for North Oldham a minute later would expand the Mustangs lead to a game-high 13 points with 1:37 remaining in the game. Despite four straight missed field goals in the final minute the Bulldogs had a chance thanks to North Oldham’s woes at the free throw line. It was a pair of free throws by Male’s Noah Courtney that pulled the Bulldogs within 69-76 with 19 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs’ Jake Evans would lose the gap to six points seconds later, but it was too late as time expired sending North Oldham to the Championship with the 78-71 victory.
North Oldham was led by Justin Powell with a game-high 25 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Freshman Dallas Roberts earned Central Bank Player of the Game honors with a 24 points performance and Tyler Higdon added 12 points and 8 rebounds. Male was led by Tyren Moore with 21 points and Noah Courtney added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs.