LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- It's not often a high school basketball game becomes a hot ticket, but that was the case Friday night at Fairdale High School for the final two opening-round games of the King of The Bluegrass.
School officials and security had to turn away fans hoping to squeeze into the standing-room-only crowd for the state's longest-running holiday tournament. Not surprisingly, the main draw was a future Kentucky Wildcat and a future Louisville Cardinal.
Four-star Madisonville-North Hopkins guard Jon Hood, who signed with UK in November, faced a big challenge from one of the most aggressive squads in the state, Louisville Pleasure Ridge Park. The Panthers brought their relentless full-court pressure the entire game -- which often resembled a rugby scrum; 48 total fouls when the dust settled -- but the Maroons' star kept answering the bell.
Hood turned in one of the best individual performances in KoTB history, scoring 36 points by knocking down 9 of 17 shots from the floor and 17 of 22 at the line. He also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, recorded seven steals and blocked three shots as UK assistant coach Jeremy Cox watched with approval from the stands.
His 36 points tied him with former UK standouts Rajon Rondo and Marquis Estill for 12th on the KoTB's all-time single-game scoring list, but the elusive 37th point is the one Hood will long remember. Although he had drained 17 of 21 free throws, his 22nd attempt rimmed out with 13 seconds remaining. PRP got a basket from Jammaine Lockhart on the other end with :04 left, and the Maroons' final shot came up short in a 69-68 thriller.
"It was obvious we couldn't get around Hood," PRP coach Dale Mabrey said. "He's pretty tough... He hits his free throws. He hits great shots under pressure. We just couldn't seem to get around him to really rattle him at all.
"He is a true guard. I would take him at two guard anytime, anyplace."
Hood scored nine points in each the first and second quarters to help give Madisonville a 35-32 lead at the half. He had six in the third quarter before cranking it up for 12 in the final period.
In the end, though, he proved to be the only Maroon in double-figures. PRP countered with a more balanced attack that got 18 points from guard Brandon Schoenoff, 17 points from Lockhart at forward, 13 points from center Jamal Stephenson and 10 from guard Markell Carter.
The Panthers advanced in the tournament despite shooting 36 percent from the field. They made up for it by forcing 25 turnovers leading to 20 points and out-rebounding Madisonville 47-37. Schoenoff had nine rebounds from his backcourt position. Stephenson, a 6-8 junior center with possible college potential, had eight boards.
FRANKLIN (WASH.) 56, MALE 52
Simply getting to the Derby City was a battle for the visitors from the Great Northwest, and they encountered another one when they arrived at Fairdale for a matchup against defending KoTB champion Male. Due to winter storms en route to Louisville, Franklin's squad spent three days making its way across the country and only arrived with half of its squad and without its head coach.
Much to the delight of the red-clad University of Louisville fans on hand, four-star Cardinal signee Peyton Siva was one of the players who made it in time. The point guard's performance was a mixed bag of slashing drives, dazzling passes, errant shots and turnovers. Siva's final stat line was 14 points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field, five rebounds, three assists and seven turnovers.
Siva may have saved his best play of the night for last. It came on the defensive end of the floor when he hustled back in transition and used his exceptional athleticism to block a Male layup that would have given the Bulldogs a one-point lead with 48 seconds left. Siva then hit three of four free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Male got 17 points from two-sport star O.J. Bell, who was 7-of-9 from the field, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and blocked two shots. He is also a tight end/defensive end prospect on the gridiron, where his college future may lie. UK, UofL, Western Kentucky and Arkansas-Pine Bluff have expressed interest.
CHEROKEE (GA.) 66, CENTENNIAL (TENN.) 51
Four-star Alabama signee Shawn Kemp struggled to get his game going against the aggressive defense of burly Miami of Ohio signee Drew Kelly, but got more help from his surrounding cast than his rival big man.
Senior guard Michael Kvan scored a game-high 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and four 3-pointers to lead the Warriors to victory. The 6-foot-9 Kemp added 13 points, but was only 4-for-11 from the field against Kelly (6-7, 240). The grandson of former UK assistant coach Lake Kelly, he finished with 14 pionts and eight rebounds.
Another bright spot for the Cougars was the play of 6-7 senior forward Travis Williams, who scored a team-high 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and three 3-pointers. He is receiving NAIA interest and could see his stock rise in the spring if his senior year continues to shine.
CORAL REEF (FLA.) 75, DORSEY (CALIF.) 59
The Barracudas had no trouble dispatching of the Dons of Los Angeles in an uneventful opening game of Friday's session.
Senior guard Brandon Vickers scored 15 of his game-high 18 points in the first half as Coral Reef built a 45-27 lead. Senior forward Carlos Palmer and junior swingman Charles Hankerson carried Coral Reef in the second half and finished with 16 and 15 points, respectively. The 6-5 Hankerson, who has reportedly drawn early scholarship offers from Auburn and Virginia Commonwealth, also had six rebounds, five assists and two steals in a well-rounded effort.
Senior guard Lee Lark paced Dorsey with 15 points and four steals.
4:30 - Cherokee vs. Coral Reef
6:00 - Taylor County vs. DuPont Manual
7:30 - Franklin vs. PRP
9:00 - Lexington Catholic vs. Jeffersontown
Note: Fans wishing to get another look at Hood can see Madisonville at 7:30 on Saturday in the East Gym at Fairdale. The Maroons will face Louisville Male in the consolation bracket.