By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
The Indians looked like a state tournament veteran team in easily dispatching Wayne County, 81-56, Wednesday in the fist round of the KHSAA Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena.
Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus said after last week’s 11th Region Tournament that this team had played the toughest schedule in school history in preparation for what the team would face in the state tournament this week.
Evidently it worked because the bright lights on the big stage didn’t seem to faze the senior-laden Indians, who put on quite a show for the thousands of Central fans who made the trek to Lexington.
“We’ve been pretty focused all year and I didn’t think they would be distracted, that they would soak it up, especially Quan (Taylor). I knew he would soak it up,” Feldhaus said. “This is right up his alley. This whole team, they are all different. They all get ready in different ways, but they are always ready. This is a good start.”
Dominique Hawkins led the way with a masterful performance with, unbeknownst to him, Kentucky coach John Calipari sitting at the press table in the end zone taking a closer look at the senior point guard.
Hawkins finished with a game-high 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting, coming on a variety of coast-to-coast drives, high-flying tip-ins, sweet jump shots in the lane and one long three-pointer. He also had three rebounds, three assists, one block and one steal in 28 minutes of action.
“I didn’t notice Coach Cal in the end zone so I didn’t pay attention to him,” Hawkins said when told the Wildcats coach was there watching. “But it is an honor for me to know that he was here.”
Ken-Jah Bosley also finished in double figures with 19 points. He also pulled down eight rebounds, handed out one assist and had one steal.
Taylor also had a big game with 13 points — including three rim-rattling dunks — 15 rebounds, one assist, three blocked shots and two steals.
Daniel Parke had eight points in the game to go along with three rebounds, four assists and two steals, while George Walker had six points on two three pointers, Sam Jones had five points and five rebounds, Demarcus George had four points and six rebounds and Chris Conner had one free throw.
The Indians jumped out to a 4-0 lead and methodically built a 20-12 advantage at the end of the first quarter by limiting the prolific three-point shooting Cardinals to only one three by Trey Blevins — Wayne County’s first points of the game.
“I was really pleased with our guys defensively. They are kind of a dangerous team to have to guard because they can all put the ball on the floor and they can all shoot the basketball,” Feldhaus said. “I think we did a good job of cutting off their dribble penetration. That way we didn’t have to help because whenever you help off one of those guys they are going to kick it to someone else for an open three.”
Central led 28-14 after a three pointer by Parke and a alley-oop slam and a free throw by Taylor, but the Cardinals fought back, scoring seven straight, forcing Feldhaus to call a timeout.
From that point, Hawkins hit a jumpshot and had a soaring tip in to jump-start a 15-2 Central run to end the half, the final three coming on a buzzer-beating heave from beyond mid-court by Bosley to give the Indians a 43-20 lead at the half.
Bosley said he was surprised when it went in.
“I was going to pass it to Dominique, I saw him cutting down the sideline, but I looked up and saw only one second and though I needed to shoot it,” Bosley said. “I didn’t know if it was going to go in or not ... but I was just happy it went in. I was in disbelief because it was such a far shot.”
The second half was all Central as the Indians scored 13 of the first 19 points and never looked back, allowing Feldhaus to empty his bench early in the fourth quarter to give some of his younger players a taste of playing in a state tournament.
Central shot 47.1 percent from the field in the game and 42.9 percent from behind the three point line. The Indians dominated the glass, pulling down 48 rebounds to only 21 for the Cardinals.
The Indians will play Holmes in the quarterfinals at noon on Friday. Holmes beat Pleasure Ridge Park 65-60 Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals.