PIKEVILLE - Johnson Central is headed back to Rupp Arena. The champion out of the 57th District, Johnson Central punched its ticket to the 2013 Boys' Sweet 16 on Saturday night, defeating district foe Sheldon Clark 59-48 to capture its second straight 15th Region title at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
Johnson Central, under the direction of head coach Tommy McKenzie, won its eighth straight game, improving to 22-11.
Three players reached double figures in the scoring column as Johnson Central pulled off back-to-back 15th Region title triumphs. Sophomore guard Braxton Blair led Johnson Central with 12 points. Shane Hall and Kyle Gullett, a player who entered the game off the bench, added 11 points apiece for the Golden Eagles. The tournament-tested Johnson Central bench outscored Sheldon Clark's reserves 15-0.
Johnson Central used a 19-8 run in the second quarter to distance itself from district rival Sheldon Clark, who led 14-11 at the conclusion of the opening period.
After moving ahead in the second quarter, Johnson Central never trailed again. The Golden Eagles owned multiple double digit leads in the first half before settling for a 30-22 lead at halftime.
Johnson Central dominated on the boards, outrebounding Sheldon Clark 33-18. Sheldon Clark was limited to only five offensive rebounds.
The Golden Eagles shot 56.1 percent (23-of-41) from the field. Johnson Central was five of 10 from 3-point range.
Hall, who was named the 15th Region Tournament Most Valuable Player for the second straight year, also had six rebounds and two blocks.
Sophomore guard Chase Parsley paced Sheldon Clark with a game-high 29 points. Parsley was 10 of 25 from the field. The talented guard connected on three of nine 3-point field goal attempts.
Parsley was the only Sheldon Clark scorer to reach double figures. Dylan James and Chase Kirk both finished one shot short of double figures, scoring eight points apiece for the Cardinals.
Sheldon Clark shot 36.3 percent (15-of-41) from the field in the season-ending loss. The Cardinals were only five of 18 from 3-point range.
Johnson Central will face Ballard in the opening round of the Boys' Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena on Thursday.
Tipoff for the Johnson Central-Ballard game is set for 6:30 p.m.
15th Region Boys' Basketball Tournament
at East Kentucky Expo Center
Johnson Central 59, Sheldon Clark 48
Sheldon Clark (48): James 8, Kirk 8, Chase Parsley 29, Rice 2, Blackburn 1.
Johnson Central (59): Hall 11, Blair 12, Adkins 7, McPeek 5, Gullett 11, Salyer 9, McKenzie 2, Hitchcock 2.
Sheldon Clark.......14 8 6 20-48
Johnson Central.....11 19 7 22-59