HALL OF FAME
WHITAKER BANK/KHSAA BOYS' SWEET 16: Veteran PRP presents challenge
March 19, 2014Bardstown High School
Panthers lost in last year's first round
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 10:40 pm
The Maalox needs to be handy and the stomach butterflies will be churning for many high school athletes when they step onto the floor of cavernous Rupp Arena for the first time to play in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16.
However, Bardstown’s opening-round opponent, Pleasure Ridge Park, returns three starters from last year’s team that fell 65-60 to Covington Holmes in an opening round contest. And that experience should help the Panther cause on Thursday night.
“I think that the teams that do well in that environment are those who are focused and are mature,” said Pleasure Ridge Park coach Dale Mabrey, who has been on the bench for 13 of 14 of the school’s state tournament runs and has a state championship to his credit. “I am hopeful that our kids who played there last year will not be nervous.”
Lamontray Harris and Antonio McDaniels scored 20 and 19 points, respectively, in that game to pace the Panthers. Dangelo Harris added five.
The trio returned this year to garner All-6th Region honors, while along the way, helping their team to a 26-7 record that included an 81-73 overtime win over highly regarded Ballard in the finals of the Louisville Invitational Tournament.
But PRP will face Bardstown without the services of Harris and his 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. The region Player of the Year was ejected from the regional semi-final game against Doss. The state-mandated two-game suspension included last week’s regional championship game against Bullitt East (a 59-56 Panther win) and tomorrow night’s game.
“We just hope that we can band together and win again without him so he gets to play at least one more game in his career at PRP,” Mabrey told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
McDaniels shouldered the load in the game against Bullitt East, a team that Bardstown edged 81-78 in February. The 5’10 senior, who averaged 13 points an outing during the season, hit all seven of his fourth-quarter shots (three from the field and four from the charity stripe) to bring the Panthers back from a five point fourth quarter deficit.
It took an outstanding performance from 6’5 junior Richard Gaines to help PRP reach the regional finals after Harris was ejected. Gaines averaged only six points during the season but broke loose for 18 points to go with his 10 boards to help his team edge Doss 64-63.
Gaines and the 6’7 Hunter will present a formidable inside presence for a Bardstown team that boasts 6’6 Sevion Schooling.
“I was very impressed with Schooling when I saw Bardstown in the region finals,” said Mabrey. “He is a very good leaper and has a quick first step and likes to block shots. He loves to rebound and I think that is a lost art.”
Mabrey thinks his team’s size advantage may be negated by the Tigers’ quickness.
“They have those three guards who are lightning quick and like to penetrate and then dish it out. Their quickness is going to be a tough match up for us.”
Bardstown coach James “Boo” Brewer is taking a team to the state tournament for the second time, losing to Bullitt East and Derek Willis 53-44 in 2011.
He’ll be matching wits against a coach whose accomplishments are among the best in state history. Mabrey has been the head coach at Pleasure Ridge Park for 33 years and guided his team to the 1989 state title. He has amassed 840 career victories, third most in state history. His teams have won 13 of the school’s regional titles and have claimed 22 Sweet 16 wins.