by Alan B. Gibson
Tourney time in Kentucky – part 5
You saw him here first
Great games. Great atmosphere. Great finish.
That’s about the best way I can sum up last week’s KHSAA Sweet 16 Boys’ Tournament in Rupp Arena.
As it came down the stretch, after that first-game blowout against neighboring Wayne County, the Indians of Madison Central had to work their way into comeback mode not once, not twice, but even in Sunday’s final game to overcome a significant deficit each time before picking up a win.
Sunday’s championship victory seemed the most unlikely of all as the game entered the final seconds and a steal and a Ken-Jay Bosley three pointer pushed Madison Central out in front just seconds before the buzzer signaled the victory for the Allen Feldhaus, Jr. led Indians over Louisville Ballard, 65-64.
Great finish indeed.
Of course it wasn’t the first time Allen Jr. (AJ) had been on the Rupp floor for the Sweet 16. In 1981, he played for the Mason County Royals that lost to Simon-Kenton in the championship game, and since that time, he has coached other Madison Central teams to regional titles and Sweet 16 appearances, including the 1999 team that was led by University of Kentucky center Marquis Estill.
A player on this year’s Madison Central team, Dominique Hawkins, is a for-real Division I prospect that is finally capturing the attention of U.K. Coach John Calipari. Calipari watched three of four Madison games last week, apparently evaluating Hawkins. UK Assistant Coach Orlando Antigua was watching alone Sunday.
Then there is the Clinton County connection – yes, you saw Allen, Jr. here first. He got his head-coaching start right here in Clinton County with a two-season stay in Albany that saw his teams have not so great finishes, but with what could be said was noticeable improvements – 9-16 in 1986-87, then 12-13 the following year.
AJ left Clinton County for a five-year stay at Green County before accepting what I then said was the premier head coaching job in Kentucky, with the Indians of Madison Central.
If there were any drawbacks to last week’s tournament, personally, it was the change to a Sunday afternoon championship coupled with the tournament being held a week earlier than normal.
A traditionalist at heart, I prefer to get it over with a semi-final and final round both being played on Saturday, and getting up and coming home Sunday morning – something we did anyway, watching the game on the computer streamed version after arriving in Albany.
I had predicted earlier that Sunday’s championship game would be one of the lowest in attendance in 50 years – but I was wrong. Madison Central getting to the championship game saved that – in my opinion.
The other factor, with the tournament dates being flip-flopped with the girls’ Sweet 16, meant that those of us attending the event all week weren’t able to hover around television sets and take in the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament in between Sweet 16 sessions. That was the lesser of the two drawbacks.
This week, the attention moves to Bowling Green and the Girls’ Sweet 16 brackets. Says here that 15 of those teams are playing for second place because Makayla Epps led Marion County Knights will take possession of the big trophy this Saturday night in Diddle Arena.
It’s tourney time in Kentucky – don’t call me until April!