LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Darius Miller dominated the second half as
Mason County beat Holmes 57-48 Saturday in the Boys' Sweet Sixteen
State Basketball Tournament at Rupp Arena.
The 6-foot-7 senior forward scored a game-high 24 points - 19 in
the second half - to lead the third-ranked Royals (34-4) to their
second state championship in five years.
Mason County won its first title in 2003. The Royals lost in the
final the next season with Miller playing on the team as an
A front-runner for Mr. Basketball and a University of Kentucky
signee, Miller connected on 7 of 11 shots and 10 of 13 free throws.
"My teammates had a lot of faith in me and they just kept
feeding me," said Miller, who was named the tournament's Most
Valuable Player. "I was settling for too many jumpers in the first
half and (in the second) I just tried to get down there (in the
post) and finish."
Leading 41-27 heading into the final quarter, Mason County had
to withstand a fourth-quarter rally by Holmes. Behind five points
by senior guard Arrez Henderson, Holmes began the period with an
8-0 run. But they could pull no closer than six.
Henderson finished with 18 points to pace No. 7 Holmes (34-3).
Sophomore forward Ricardo Johnson added 15 points and sophomore
forward Elijah Pittman had 12 for the Bulldogs.
"We just dug ourselves too big a hole right out of the gate,"
Holmes coach David Henley said. "We couldn't make a basket and
much of that was because of Mason County and their defense. And,
they just killed us rebounding the basketball."
Both teams started cold from the field, combining to missed
their first eight shots. The Royals outscored Holmes 8-2 to close
out the second quarter with a 21-16 halftime lead.
Miller sparked an 8-0 run to open the third quarter by scoring
the first six points - on two inside baskets off post-ups and two
"He's the best player in the state, he's got to get the ball
there," Mason County coach Chris O'Hearn said.
Miller was perfect in the third period - going 4-for-4 from the
field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line.
"He's a great player and obviously they were going to go to him
in the second half, they knew it, we knew, everyone knew it, that's
why he's going to the University of Kentucky," Henley said.
Junior guard Russ Middleton added 13 points and junior forward
Keith Downing 10 for the Royals.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)