Deshan Rushin said it took him a while to find his confidence after making the transition from football to basketball season.
But after a strong showing Friday, the Pleasure Ridge Park High School senior issued this warning: “More shots to come.”
Rushin scored all 14 of his points in the first quarter — including three 3-pointers — to propel the Panthers to a 67-52 victory over St. Xavier in the quarterfinals of the Republic Bank Louisville Invitational Tournament at Valley.
Rushin, a wide receiver in football, added five rebounds, three steals and two assists while making his first start this season.
“He has been coming on in practice every day — another step forward, another step forward until we thought tonight he deserved to be out there,” coach Dale Mabrey said. “In the first half he was amazing.”
Lamontray Harris had 23 points and 11 rebounds and D’Angelo Hunter added 14 points as PRP (13-4) — No. 8 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings — advanced to face Fern Creek (13-4) in today’s 10 a.m. semifinal. The winner will take on the Ballard-Trinity survivor in the 8 p.m. final.
It’s the Panthers’ first trip to the semis since 2009. They haven’t reached the final since losing to Eastern in 2006.
“It’s been a while since we played on Saturday morning (in the LIT), and the kids really wanted that opportunity,” Mabrey said. “Whether we win or lose, I’ll take it if we come to compete like we just did.”
Robert Shaw had 18 points and four steals to lead St. X (13-3), which hit just 1 of 22 from 3-point range and 7 of 19 free throws. Coach Kevin Klein credited the Panthers’ length on defense.
“They give us a dimension we don’t see in practice each day,” he said. “We can preach and we can talk and we can have a game plan, but they had a lot to do with us not executing.”
Andrew Marquess’ basket gave the Tigers a 10-7 lead at the 4:06 mark of the first quarter, but the Panthers scored the next 17 points to take control. Rushin hit three straight 3-pointers, banking one in at the buzzer to give PRP a 19-10 lead.
“Lately (the coaches) have been telling me to shoot the ball more,” he said. “I lost confidence in my shot because I was playing football … but now I have my confidence back.”
Mabrey said it might have been PRP’s best performance this season.
“It seemed like we had that swagger again, and we haven’t had that swagger for a good little while,” he said.
* Kelan Martin (29 points, eight rebounds) and Quentin Snider (24 points, eight assists) had their typical solid games and Jalen Perry added 20 points as the No. 1 Bruins (16-4) beat the No. 14 Dragons (12-4) in a fast-paced contest.Ballard 86, Doss 76:
Perry was 7 of 8 from the field, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range.
“He played a really good game,” Ballard coach Chris Renner said. “It was big for us for him to be that third scorer.”
Montrell Little hit 15 of 17 free throws and scored 28 points to lead Doss. Terrell Gray added 17 points.
Ballard led 40-37 at halftime before starting the third quarter with a 23-10 run to make it 63-47. The Dragons committed just six turnovers in the first half but had 10 in the third quarter.
“Their defense definitely picked up in the third quarter, and we kind of panicked a little bit,” coach K.C. Goodin said. “Guys didn’t go to the right spots at times … but that’s part of the learning process.”
Ballard will face rival Trinity in today’s 11:30 a.m. semifinal. The Bruins beat the Shamrocks 65-54 on Dec. 23 to win the King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic at Fairdale.
* The No. 10 Raiders (13-3) had no answer for junior power forward Raymond Spalding, who had 18 points, four rebounds, seven blocks and four steals as the No. 5 Shamrocks (12-2) stayed alive in their pursuit of a third straight LIT title.Trinity 60, Iroquois 45:
Trey Ivory added 11 points, and Craig Owens had eight points and eight rebounds for Trinity, which shot 54.3 percent and held Iroquois to 28.8 percent.
Devon Johnson led Iroquois with 14 points, and Troy Smith scored 12.
Spalding made 6 of 8 shots, including some powerful dunks.
“It’s really easy because we’ve got a 6-10 (player) down there that we can just (lob) it up to, and he can finish around the basket,” Owens said. “I think he’s getting better and better.”