His team playing its fourth game in four days, Ballard High School boys’ basketball coach Chris Renner cared little about style points in Saturday’s game against Noblesville (Ind.) Guerin Catholic.
“Are we 15 or 18 points better than them? At this point I don’t care,” Renner said. “I just wanted to get a win.”
And that’s what he got.
Butler signee Kelan Martin posted 23 points, eight rebounds and four steals and University of Louisville-bound Quentin Snider added 22 points and seven assists as the Bruins beat the Golden Eagles 77-71 in the inaugural Kentucky-Indiana Challenge Cup in Freedom Hall.
It capped Kentucky’s 4-1 victory over Indiana in the five-game event that included four boys’ games and one girls’ contest.
For the Bruins, it brought an end to a whirlwind four days that included a win over Kentucky Country Day on Wednesday, a loss to Christian Brothers College High in St. Louis on Thursday and a victory over Waggener on Friday.
“After four days, my legs kind of got to me,” said Ballard junior Jalen Perry, who scored 12 points. “We had to push through it, and Coach was good at subbing us in and out. Just a little extra effort got us through the game.”
Ballard — No. 1 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings — improved to 14-4 and now will have three days off before facing Butler or KCD at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the second round of the Louisville Invitational Tournament at Valley.
Aaron Brennan had 28 points and nine rebounds to lead Guerin Catholic (11-3), which is ranked No. 5 in Indiana’s Class 3-A by The Associated Press. The Golden Eagles shot 61.4 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle 31-24 but hit just 13 of 24 free throws.
The Bruins also scored 19 points off 15 Guerin Catholic turnovers.
“They just wear you down,” coach Pete Smith said of the Bruins. “I wish it would have been on a high school floor. I think the college floor aided them a little bit because they were so deep and we have injuries. … That being said, we didn’t make free throws and made some bad turnovers.”
Ballard took its largest lead, 51-41, on Martin’s dunk with 3:25 left in the third quarter before Guerin Catholic rallied. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Christian Munson and Matthew Godfrey tied the score at 61 with 4:59 left.
But Perry answered with a big 3-pointer from the right corner to give Ballard the lead for good at 64-61 with 4:39 left. Freshman Jamil Wilson hit a basket in the lane to give the Bruins a 71-67 edge with 1:21 left, and they hit 6 of 6 free throws in the final 47 seconds to seal the victory.
Renner said his team’s busy schedule — which also included a trip to Fort Worth, Texas, during the Christmas break — has allowed it to have just one full practice in the past 22 days.
He’s hoping Saturday’s victory will provide some momentum heading into the LIT.
“That’s an outstanding team, and they posed problems for us,” Renner said of Guerin Catholic. “I think we got better tonight.”