Votes won’t be cast for Mr. Basketball for several months, but Ballard’s Jalen Perry is making quite the early case for the state’s top high school hoops award.
The 6-foot-2 senior guard scored 27 points and grabbed six rebounds in the Bruins 82-65 victory over visiting Male Friday night. But it was his presence as much as anything else that helped Ballard, the No. 2 team in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches poll, in a tough, physical game.
Fellow seniors Corey Douglas and Anthony Eaves drew two fouls apiece in the first quarter and sat the rest of the half. That forced coach Chris Renner to rotate more than a dozen players, including freshmen, in the first half. The one constant, though, was Perry.
“It was actually really challenging because we’re really young,” said Perry, who scored 16 points in the first half. “We had a lot of freshen playing. I knew I had to be a leader and had to keep them going.”
The Bruins (4-1) jumped out to a 9-0 start and never trailed. But Male kept it close through the first half. It was 27-24 with 3:57 left, but that’s when Perry took over.
After two Nick Smith free throws made it a five-point game, Perry stole the inbounds pass and converted it into a layup. That started a stretch of seven straight points for the Bruins’ leading scorer (24.4 points per game), and extended the lead to 36-28 with 1:49 left.
After playing third option behind Mr. Basketball Quentin Snider and Kelan Martin last season, Perry has improved because he no longer has to hunt for his shots because the ball comes to him, Renner said.
“He’s had a start as good as any player I’ve here since I’ve been at Ballard,” said Renner, now in his 17th season at the school. “He is playing tremendously well. I think some people will look in the paper and see the points and say he had 27… but he’s doing more than that.”
In the second half, Ballard used pressure defense to put distance between itself and the Bulldogs (1-1). Ballard forced 15 of Male’s 25 turnovers in the second half.
“We tried to speed them up with our intensity on defense, and just tried to get them going,” Perry said. “We got a lot of deflections tonight. Really, it was a defensive game.”
And the Bulldogs could not keep up with the Bruins’ pace.
“They got every loose ball,” Male coach Larry Miller said. “They got a ton of offensive rebounds. A lot of that is attributed to them. They’re a really good team, but we did not compete at the level they competed against us.”
Alex Cook led the Bulldogs with 18 points, and Cory Bowman added 17. Eaves, despite the foul trouble, finished with 13 for Ballard.
Male (1-1) – Allman 2, Bowman 17, Brownley 4, Cook 18, Horne 10, Parker 12, Watts 2.
Ballard (4-1) – C. Douglas 8, Eaves 13, Perry 27, Ramsey 4, Tisby 2, Alvey 8, Snider 3, Darby 2, Tyrese Duncan 3, Tyron Duncan 2, Smith 10
3-point goals – Bowman 1, Horne 1, Eaves 2, Perry 1, Alvey 2, Smith 2.