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Elizabethtown uses balanced attack to roll past Ballard in Sweet 16 semifinals, 69-53

Les Nicholson photography

(Photo courtesy of Les Nicholson)

The Elizabethtown Panthers, ranked #1 in the KSR Prep Rankings, defeated the Ballard Bruins 69-53 in the semifinal round of the 2021 KHSAA Boy’s Sweet 16 Tournament. All five E-Town starters scored in double-figures and the Panthers forced 19 Ballard turnovers. Jaquais Franklin (19 points, six assists), Khia Sherrard (13 points, four rebounds, five assists, three steals) and Alandre Murphy (13 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals) led the way. Kam Sherrard (13) and Camden Williams (11) also finished in double-figures.

E-Town took a 17-8 lead into the first media timeout thanks to a trio of 3-pointers from Williams. Kam Sharrard added three early baskets, the last causing Ballard to call timeout with 2:09 remaining in the first quarter. Murphy even had a block on Ballard’s 6’9 Maker Bar. Bar scored six of Ballard’s first eight points to keep them within striking distance.

Murphy, Franklin, and Kam Sherrard each got layups to push the Panther lead out to a 25-10. The Panthers swarming defense helped negate the Bruins size. Murphy was particularly active on defense for the Panthers. He picked up his second steal of the game, leading to a runout and-1 basket, pushing the lead to 27-11 and forcing another Bruin timeout.

A pair of Keno Hayden 3-pointers brought Ballard to within 32-20 with three minutes remaining in the first half. Through the first two quarters, Bar had eight points and eight rebounds. He made this assist to Chaunte Marrero to pull the Bruins to within seven points at halftime. Ballard closed the half on an 8-0 run with six of those points coming after Khia Sherrard went to the bench after picking up his 2nd foul with 1:31 remaining in the half.

In the first half, Elizabethtown forced 11 turnovers, scoring 12 points off those turnovers. Kam Sherrard had 11 first-half points to lead E-Town.

E-Town responded with an 11-0 run to start the second half capped off by a Franklin 3-pointer and Murphy layup to force a third Ballard timeout with 4:12 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Panthers led 47-28. Khia Sherrard extended the run with a bucket before Ballard finally stopped the bleeding with a D.J. Tilford 3-pointer but E-Town had no trouble keeping the double-digit lead.

The Bruins cut the lead to 63-51 thanks to a transition layup from Marrero, but it was too little, too late. They got several easy layups in the last few minutes.

The Panthers held Gabe Sisk, Ballard’s leading scorer this season, to only three points. E-Town didn’t game plan to stop him specifically, but they were very aware of where he was on the court.

Ballard’s season ends with a 21-3 record. They came into the tournament tied with Highlands at #2 in the KSR Prep Rankings.  The Bruins missed the first month of the season because JCPS did not allow Louisville public schools to play in the month of January. Ballard only plays one senior, Marrero, and will be the favorite to cut down the net at Rupp Arena next season.

Marrero, who will play football at Georgetown College, was named to the All-Tournament team along with Bar. Bar finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds while Marrero added 13 points. The Bruins outrebounded the Panthers 33-22 but had too many turnovers and started slowly out of the gate. E-Town scored 11 seconds in and Ballard trailed the rest of the game.

(Photo courtesy of Les Nicholson)

The Panthers move on tonight’s final game at 8 P.M. #8 Ashland takes on #2 Highlands in the other semifinal at 2:00 P.M. later today. The Panthers won the 2000 state title. That team featured UK Wildcat Antwain Barbour along with Chris Williams, Camden’s father.

If they play Ashland, it will be a rematch of the 2020 Class 3A state football championship. Ashland won the game 35-14. Kam Sherrard, Khia Sherrard, Williams, and Murphy each caught passes in that game. They combined for 17 catches for 203 yards.  Ashland’s Hunter Gillum rushed for TDs and notched 11 tackles in the victory.

Article written by Troy Howell

Follow me on twitter @ teeroyhowell

3 Comments for Elizabethtown uses balanced attack to roll past Ballard in Sweet 16 semifinals, 69-53

  1. Not Dan Issel
    1:14 pm April 3, 2021 Permalink

    For those folks too young to have actually watched “Rupp’s Runts” in action, and have wondered what they looked like, go watch E’town and you will have a good idea of what kind of team they were. Superb ball movement, all five starters can play anywhere on the court, relentless defense, a great TEAM in every sense of the word. Fun to watch.

    • Bluehender
      4:47 pm April 3, 2021 Permalink

      Sounds like a fun team to watch. I live in Henderson. A few years ago Evansville Reitz had a team with very much the same make up. They all could play anywhere, score from everywhere and defend like crazy. They went all the way to the title game that year. Dru Smith who played for Missouri was a freshman in that team. He was their 6th man and all 6 were excellent players.

    • Bluehender
      4:50 pm April 3, 2021 Permalink

      …the team that beat them from Indianapolis, had Caleb Swanigan, who played at Purdue. He was too much man for those kids. But they were a great team and fun to watch..