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.
Ballard vs. North Oldham (Mon. 7:30pm)
Collins vs. Male (Mon. 6:00pm)