Drew McDonald may or may not have another high school basketball all-star game left as he awaits to see if he makes the team for the annual Kentucky/Indiana summer showcase in boys basketball.
If the Kentucky/Ohio version was his last prep basketball game, the Newport Central Catholic High School senior standout had a memorable finish as he and his Bluegrass teammates dominated the Ohio squad 105-76. It was the 24th annual border battle, taking place at Thomas More College.
“It was fun,” he said. “We came in and had three days to bond with these guys. We had one goal, to win. It’s the first time in five years that we beat Ohio. We wanted to put on a good show for everyone.”
McDonald got the team going right away, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key in the opening seconds. Evan Hall, a 6-foot-7 center from Knott County Central, took over from there, scoring 12 of his 17 points early on as Kentucky built a 24-11 lead. Ohio never took the lead after that.
McDonald had seven points as he enjoyed the lopsided win and the atmosphere of the game. Each team had six Division I college signees. Ohio had four of those six going to major conferences, while Kentucky had one: Knott’s Camron Justice, the 2015 Mr. Basketball honoree who will go to Vanderbilt.
“It was a great feeling to be playing with the best guys in the state,” McDonald said. “You get to play with and against guys you haven’t played with before. You get to represent your entire state and not just your school. It’s great.”
McDonald will be playing Division I hoops himself next season as he heads to Northern Kentucky University. That program is in transition after naming John Brannen as new head coach April 7. Brannen, also a NewCath graduate, is the brother of former NCC head coach Grant Brannen, who coached McDonald.
“John called me the night he got the job and I was at his press conference,” McDonald said. “I’ve got to know him a little bit through Grant. We’re going to sit down and have a more in-depth meeting soon.”
Brannen left his assistant coaching job at the University of Alabama to come back home to NKU.
“He’s an assistant coach on the rise,” McDonald said. “He’s had two top-10 recruiting classes at Alabama. He’s going to be a great coach. He’s a very smart guy. He’ll have us in the NCAA Tournament in a couple of years. I have no doubt about that.”
Knott County’s Hall, who will play for IUPUI, was named the MVP of the game for Kentucky. Doss guard Terrell Gray (Lindsey Wilson), who led his team to the KHSAA Sweet 16 before falling to Covington Catholic in the quarterfinals, led Kentucky with 21 points. David Simmons of Henderson County scored 11, Manual’s Dwayne Sutton (UNC-Asheville) 10 and Seneca’s Chris Coffey 10. Justice had eight and Covington Catholic’s Bo Schuh two. Schuh recently committed to Transylvania.
Ben Casanova of Sylvania Southview led Ohio with 11 points. Beau Justice of Peebles (West Liberty) scored 10 and Ahmad Wagner of Huber Heights Wayne (Iowa) had nine. Among the others playing for Ohio were West Virginia signee Esa Ahmad of Shaker Heights, Michigan State signee Kyle Aherns of Versailles, and Northwestern recruit Derek Pardon of Villa Angela-St. Joseph.
OHIO (76) – D’Mitrick Trice 3, Tommy Bolte 3, Kyle Aherns 4, Beau Justice 10, Jordan Dartis 4, Brian Parker 4, Ahmad Wagner 9, Drew Scarberry 6, Alex White 2, Ben Cassanova 11, Xeryius Williams 7, Derek Pardon 4, Esa Ahmad 5, Michael Davis, Jeremiah Roberts. .
KENTUCKY (105) – Camron Justice 8, Eljay Cowherd 6, Jeremiah Bell 5, Terrell Grey 21, Hagen Tyler 4, David Simmons 11, Bo Schuh 2, Evan Hall 17, Will Parker 2, Dwayne Sutton 10, Chris Coffey 10, Kyle Gullett 2, Drew McDonald 7, Trey Moses.
Free Throws: Ohio 9-17; Kentucky 18-24. 3-pointers: Ohio 11 (Beau Justice 2, Jordan Dartis 2, Ben Cassanova 2, D’Mitrik Trice, Tommy Bolte, Kyle Aherns, Drew Scarberry, Xeryius Williams). Kentucky 7 (Cameron Justice 2, Terrell Grey 2, Jeremiah Bell, David Simmons, Drew McDonald).