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Run at Title Ends for Holmes in Quarterfinals of Sweet 16

It was the sixth consecutive game for the Holmes Bulldogs in which the outcome was decided in the final moments.

Being on the wrong side of that outcome ended a tremendous run for the Covington high school that saw its season end at 32-3 with a 65-61 loss to Madison Central in the quarterfinals for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Sweet 16.

"We've been battle-tested before and I just reminded them when that happened," Holmes head coach Jason Booher said following the game. Of the three losses Holmes suffered this season one ended in a double overtime loss at home against Newport Central Catholic and another finished with a miracle half-court shot at the buzzer at the hands of Covington Catholic.

On Friday afternoon inside Rupp Arena, where 15,000 fans (with the cheers loudly favoring Madison Central) that included Kentucky head coach John Calipari, Holmes would pull off a miracle of its own by coming back from five points down with under a minute to play to force overtime.

Sophomore star point guard James "Beetle" Bolden scored all five of those needed points, part of a twenty-nine point show Friday. "We just wanted to pull through and send it to overtime because the momentum shifted our way," Bolden said after the loss.

After darting out to a slim lead that the Bulldogs maintained to the halftime break, Madison Central took its turn holding a slim lead for most of the second half fueled by a star performance from Dominique Hawkins who put in thirty-one points for the Indians. 

Holmes would re-take the lead 41-40 at the five-minute mark in the fourth quarter but Madison Central powered on and after two free throws by Hawkins with 56.8 seconds left, the Indians led 52-47.

Cue Bolden.

The Holmes sophomore nailed a three with forty seconds cutting the Madison Central lead to two. After an Indians turnover, Holmes got the ball back and Bolden was fouled before making two free throws to tie the game.

In the extra period Madison Central scored the first five points, including a dunk by Hawkins, a candidate for Kentucky's coveted Mr. Basketball.

Holmes would never lead in OT but threatened several times in the closing moments.

Holmes's Armani Housley fouled Madison Central's Ken-Jah Bosley with 39.2 seconds left. Both free throws were made giving the Indians a 62-58 lead.

On the ensuing posession, Holmes's Rashawn Coston drew a foul while shooting a three and sank each free throw cutting the lead to 62-61 with 16.6 seconds remaining.

Hawkins was sent to the line on the Indians' next possession and made two free throws, putting Madison Central up 64-61 with 13.1 seconds to go in the game.

At the other end of the floor a three-point attempt by Coston would have tied the game, but the shot was off the mark and Demarcus George was sent to the line for Madison Central.

That's when something bizarre happened. As George put up his first shot, which missed, the horn went off in the arena. The officials decided to give George another first shot, which he also missed. 

But the second shot, which was really the third attempt, went in and sealed the win for Madison Central.

Booher complained after the game about the extra free throw saying that he was unfamiliar with the rule and that Holmes could have had a chance to tie on the last possession. Instead, Bolden's final heave at the basket was too strong and the final buzzer sounded with Madison Central winning 65-61.

Booher said he was proud of his team this season which saw the Bulldogs rattle off victories in each of its first twenty-six games. Next year looks promising for the Bulldogs, too.

"We've got a lot of guys coming back and a (junior varsity) regional champion team coming back, too, so we're excited for the future," Booher said.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Holmes stats:

Points: James Bolden 29, Quinton Chames 9, Rashawn Coston 9, Daquan Palmer 9, Chris Englemon 3, Armani Housley 1, Marcus Hill 1

Threes: Team (6-17), Bolden (5-9), Coston (0-6), Palmer (1-2)

Rebounds: Bolden 13, Chames 8, Englemon 8Palmer 4, Housley 3, Coston 1

Game stats: Madison Central outscored Holmes in the paint 28-14; Madison Central outscored Holmes in points off turnovers 11-3. The score was tied five times and there were six lead changes. Holmes's largest lead was 7 with 5:14 to play in the second quarter. Madison Central's largest lead was 6 with 1:22 left in overtime.

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