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June 2012
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Bombers, Tigers score Classic final

By James D. Horne jhorne@paducahsun.com

Dre Bledsoe was just trying to do what he could to help Ballard Memorial win.

His back-to-back layups and Lee Chandler's steal and free throw helped the fifth-seeded Bombers hold off and upset No. 4 Hickman County 60-52 in an All A Classic First Region Tournament quarterfinal game Wednesday night at Paducah Tilghman's Otis Dinning Gym.

Bledsoe scored with 45.6 seconds and 31.3 seconds left in the game and put Ballard Memorial ahead 59-52, and then Chandler's steal and subsequent free throw with 15.2 seconds to play sealed it.

"I knew we just had to do something, and I was lucky enough to hit those layups," said Bledsoe, who led Ballard with 15 points. "We had to score, because their momentum was going. So I just tried to help my team so we could get the win. That's all we talk about in practice: To get the win, you have to play hard. We just wanted to advance, and we were able to do that."

Today's All A Classic First Region games feature the girls in semifinal action starting with Murray taking on Ballard Memorial at 6 p.m. and Mayfield facing St. Mary at 7:45 p.m. at Otis Dinning Gym.

The Bombers (2-8) take their place in the boys semifinals and will have the honor of taking on top-seeded St. Mary at 6 p.m Friday at Otis Dinning Gym.

The Vikings have won the two previous meetings with Ballard, 80-54 at home on Dec. 13 and 75-46 in La Center on Jan. 11.

The Bombers built a 51-37 lead with 5:50 left in the game on Clay Newton's bucket. But Hickman County (5-9) whittled the margin down to 55-52 with 50.1 seconds to play on Harley Hinshaw's free throw.

Bledsoe scored on the next possession to set the end of the game in motion.

"We had a lot of guys who stepped up late that were ready to play off the bench," Ballard Memorial coach Matt Botner said. "That was the key for us. We came ready to play, they were ready to go late and they stepped up."


Ballard Memorial 12 29 44 60

Hickman County 12 23 35 52

BALLARD MEMORIAL - Dre Bledsoe 15, Keagan Cooper 10, Zach McAfee 12, Clay Newton 10, Cody Newton 7, Toler Terrell 2, Langston, Wray.

Field goals 16/27. 3-pointers 4/12 (Cooper, McAfee 2, Bledsoe). Free throws 16/28. Record 2-8.

HICKMAN COUNTY -Austin Bailey 1, James Bolen 4, Ryan Harpole 6, Harley Hinshaw 5, Rayshun Shields 8, Billy Speed 28, Boaz, Carter.

Field goals 13/30. 3-pointers 1/4 (Speed). Free throws 23/30. Record 5-9.

Murray 66, Fulton County 58

Like most basketball players, it's been drilled in Preston English's head how important making free throws is.

Luckily for Murray coach Joey Adair, English and the rest of the third-seeded Tigers heard the message. It led to English starting a streak of makes for Murray at the charity stripe and to its beating pesky No. 6 Fulton County 66-58 in an All A Classic First Region Tournament quarterfinal game Wednesday night at Paducah Tilghman's Otis Dinning Gym.

"We've been struggling at the free-throw line and personally I have, too," English said. "So I and the whole team have been practicing them in the gym, because we know it's a big part in winning the game. We just went out and played well tonight."

English hit the first pair of freebies with 2:29 to play and put Murray up 59-54. The Tigers went on to sink 7-of-10 at the line after that, and it culminated with English's final two with 33.2 to go and James Boone's single make with 9.4 seconds left to put Murray ahead 66-56.

"We hadn't been making them and have been shooting an abysmal 50 percent from the line," Adair said. "So it was nice to see the guys step up and make big shots."

Murray (8-7) moves onto the semifinals and will match up with No. 7 Carlisle County at 7:45 p.m. Friday at Otis Dinning Gym. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.

"Carlisle is a good team and has some impressive wins this year," Adair said. "Fulton County beat Carlisle the other night, so it could be anybody's ball game."

Fulton County (5-8) used a 14-6 run to cut it to 57-54 on Octavious Smith's runner with 4 minutes to go.

Murray held the ball to take some time off the clock, and the Pilots finally fouled English with 2:29 left in the game.

Fulton County's Davis Major scored with 1.4 seconds to play to make it the final.

Fulton County 11 27 40 58

Murray  17 34 51 66

FULTON COUNTY- DeVontae Hampton 3, Joe Holman 9, Stephen Houston 2, Aaron King 2, Davis Major 12, Steven Roberson 18, Octavious Smith 12, Williams, Wilson.

Field goals 24. 3-pointers 1 (Major). Free throws 7-16. Record 5-8.

MURRAY - James Boone 15, Ethan Clark 2, Preston English 7, Tre Hornbuckle 12, Desjahvonni Miles 2, Tandyn Sheppard 16, Adam Stubblefield 6, D. Boone, Clark.

Field goals 21. 3-pointers 2 (J. Boone, English). Free throws 18-23. Record 8-7.

Call James D. Horne, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8661.

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