By Mike Ridaught
All hail to the Bluegrass State.
In a match-up of one of the top teams in the Sunshine State against the top overall team in Kentucky, for the first time in the 39-year history of the Kingdom of the Sun boys’ basketball tournament, the state of Kentucky will take home a title.
At Ocala Vanguard on the last Saturday night of 2012, Louisville Ballard held off Deerfield Beach, 72-67, as senior Lavone Holland scored a game-high 27 points, including 13 in the opening quarter.
The Bucks (19-2) rallied from a double-digit deficit behind South Alabama signee Terrence Johnson’s 21 points and Lamar signee Marcus Owens (14 points), but the Bruins hit 4-of-6 free throws with under 34 seconds remaining to win the championship.
In 1990, Lexington Lafayette reached the finals, followed by Louisville Butler in 1997, but neither team won the title. Ballard’s win also snapped three straight titles by Florida programs.
In the third-place game, Cincinnati LaSalle, which lost to Deerfield Beach on Friday night, got 18 points from junior Jeffrey Larkin in a 78-57 win over Greensboro West Gadsden.
Larkin was one of four players in double figures for the Lancers (5-5), followed by his brother Jeremy (13 points), a freshman, junior Tim Bell (10) and senior Connor Speed (10).
Orlando Boone (11-4) took fifth place, following a 65-51 win over Morgan County (GA).
Junior B.J. Taylor scored 18 of his game-high 28 points in the second half in earning all-tournament offers, along with Tookie Brown, who led the Bulldogs (9-4) in the loss with 26.
One of the best games of the day was in the consolation championship game.
Memphis signee Rashawn Powell made two free throws with 17 seconds remaining as Orlando Dr. Phillips edged Coral Springs Christian, 68-67. Powell made 11-of-23 shots, including 9-for-11 from the foul line, on his way to 33 points for the Panthers (11-4).
But game-high honors goes to Long Island signee Nura Zanna, who despite missing 14 free throws, scored 40 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for the Crusaders (10-5). He was 12-of-15 from the floor in earning all-tournament honors, along with Powell.
It was the most points scored by a player since Lecanto’s Nick Cortes scored 43 points against St. Petersburg Lakewood in 2008 and the most free throws attempted in a single game (30).
Here are the results from all four days of the tournament & the All-Tournament Team. Replays of all the games are currently available and a highlight video is coming soon.
Wednesday, December 26 – Day #1
Gainesville 60, Coral Springs Christian 57
Orlando Boone 49, Miami Senior 44
Deerfield Beach 63, Panama City Rutherford 59
Morgan County (GA) 58, Orlando Dr. Phillips 54
Greensboro West Gadsden 66, Ocala Forest 59 (2 OT)
LaSalle (Cincinnati, OH) 57, Orlando Lake Highland Prep 49
Ocala Vanguard 73, Bonifay Holmes County 38
Ballard (Lexington KY) 87, Plantation American Heritage 79
Thursday, December 27 – Day #2
Panama City Rutherford 55, Miami Senior 51
Coral Springs Christian 64, Orlando Lake Highland Prep 55
Orlando Dr. Phillips 70, Plantation American Heritage 69
Ocala Forest 56, Bonifay Holmes County 42
Deerfield Beach 46, Orlando Boone 37
Greensboro West Gadsden 61, Ocala Vanguard 60
LaSalle (Cincinnati, OH) 65, Gainesville 49
Ballard (Lexington, KY) 64, Morgan County (Madison, GA) 57
Friday, December 28 – Day #3
Orlando Dr. Phillips 69, Ocala Forest 33
Coral Springs Christian 65, Panama City Rutherford 61 (OT)
Orlando Boone 80, Gainesville 57
Morgan County (Madison, GA) 63, Ocala Vanguard 42
Ballard (Lexington, KY) 75, Greensboro West Gadsden 35
Deerfield Beach 49, LaSalle (Cincinnati, OH) 41
Saturday, December 29 – Day #4
Orlando Dr. Phillips 68, Coral Springs Christian 67 (Consolation Championship)
Orlando Boone 65, Morgan County (Madison, GA) 51 (5th-Place Game)
LaSalle (Cincinnati, OH) 78, West Gadsden 57 (3rd-Place Game)
Ballard (Louisville, KY) 72, Deerfield Beach 67 (Championship)
MVP – Kelan Martin (Louisville Ballard, KY)
B.J. Taylor (Orlando Boone)
Tookie Brown (Morgan County, GA)
Rashawn Powell (Orlando Dr. Phillips)
Nura Zanna (Coral Springs Christian)
Brandon Shingles (Greensboro West Gadsden)
Jeffrey Larkin (Cincinnati LaSalle, OH)
Marcus Owens (Deerfield Beach)
Terence Johnson (Deerfield Beach)
Quentin Snider (Louisville Ballard, KY)
Lavone Holland (Louisville Ballard, KY)
Mr. Hustle Award – Schuyler Rimmer (Orlando Boone)
The Kingdom of the Sun concludes 38 boys’ basketball broadcasts over a 10-day period. But we’re not done with basketball just yet. Still to come is the annual Gainesville-Eastside rivalry at Santa Fe College. Both games (Jan. 18 & Feb. 1) will also air on 105 The Game (104.9 FM) in Gainesville. Plus, we’ll have ‘live’ district tournament coverage (TBA), the state playoffs (in February) and baseball and softball this spring.
Our weekly show, “The Prep Zone,” returns on Tuesday, January 8, from 6-7 p.m. at Sonic on 39th Avenue in Gainesville. We’ll look back at this weekend’s girls’ basketball tournament at Buchholz with tournament director Robert Moramarco and other special guests (TBA). Plus, we’ll release the first boys’ basketball Prep Zone Power Poll for 2013.
Happy New Year!