6th Region Final | 'Cool Hand Luke' leads PRP to 59-56 title win over Bullitt East

6th Region Final | 'Cool Hand Luke' leads PRP to 59-56 title win over Bullitt East


6th Region Final | 'Cool Hand Luke' leads PRP to 59-56 title win over Bullitt East


It’s a nickname synonymous with former University of Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum, but there may be another “Cool Hand Luke” in the city.

That was the assessment of Pleasure Ridge Park High School coach Dale Mabrey after watching senior guard Antonio McDaniels pull of a nearly perfect fourth quarter and lead the Panthers to another regional title.

McDaniels hit all six of his shots in the final period – a pair of 3-pointers and four free throws – as PRP rallied to beat Bullitt East 59-56 on Monday in a dramatic Sixth Region Tournament championship game at Valley.

McDaniels scored a game-high 18 points and finished 8 for 8 from the free-throw line, including a pair with 6.5 seconds left to give the Panthers a three-point lead. In three regional tournament games, McDaniels was 24 of 27 (88.9 percent) from the charity stripe.

“He’s ‘Cool Hand Luke,'” Mabrey said. “Ice water runs through his veins. He’s a special, special young man. I’d put all my apples in his barrel any day.”

The Panthers (26-7) – No. 7 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – won their second straight regional title and will face the Fifth Region champion in the first round of the Sweet 16 at 6:30 p.m. on March 20 at Rupp Arena in Lexington. No. 15 Elizabethtown will face Bardstown in Tuesday’s Fifth Region final.

PRP moved on despite the absence of Sixth Region Player of the Year Lamontray Harris, who served the first game of a two-game suspension after being ejected from Friday’s regional semifinal victory over Doss for receiving two technical fouls.

Harris wasn’t in uniform but did sit on the bench with his teammates Monday. He’ll be ineligible for the Panthers’ first game in the Sweet 16 but could return for the quarterfinals if PRP advances.

“I told my momma (Sunday) night, ‘They can do it without me,'” Harris said after the game. “I told her I’d be here cheering them on … and they pulled through for me. We’ve got the ball rolling, and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Tyler Sharpe scored 17 points and Bailey Rakes added 14 for Bullitt East (26-8), which outrebounded PRP 29-27 and committed fewer turnovers (8-5) but couldn’t hold on down the stretch.

“You have to give all the credit to them,” Chargers coach Bob Blackburn said. “PRP hit some big shots.”

Bullitt East took its biggest lead, 43-38, on Sharpe’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 6:45 left, but Blackburn said the game turned 11 seconds later when Rhett Troutman went to the bench with his fourth foul.

McDaniels followed with a pair of big 3-pointers, the second one giving the Panthers a 46-45 lead with 5:10 left.

“Even though we were up five at the time, it wasn’t a good situation for us to be in,” Blackburn said of Troutman going out of the game.

Sharpe’s steal and layup gave the Chargers a 49-46 lead with 4:02 left before the Panthers got a big lift from some of their role players. Khalid Raheem had a 3-point play, Drew Glass made a free throw and Deshan Rushin had back-to-back baskets, the last one giving the Panthers a 54-49 lead with 53.6 seconds remaining.

“There’s no one player that can replace Lamontray,” Mabrey said. “I asked everybody to give me just a little bit more than what you’ve been giving me, just a little bit more. They wanted it badly. They want Lamontray in uniform again.”

The Chargers had a chance to force overtime in the final seconds after Rakes hit three free throws to pull them within 57-56 with 7.8 seconds left. One second later, McDaniels went to the line for two free throws.

“I’d let him be up there all night long,” Mabrey said.

McDaniels made both for a 59-56 lead. Rakes’ off-balance shot from about 35 feet missed at the buzzer, and the PRP student section stormed the court in celebration.

McDaniels said the Panthers were playing for Harris and the family of Kerry Benson, a former PRP player who was killed in a car crash last week. And now it’s on to the Sweet 16, where the Panthers were eliminated by Holmes in the first round last year.

“Going to Rupp my senior year is great,” McDaniels said. “Now we just want to win it.”

Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and on Twitter @kyhighs.


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