CRESTVIEW HILLS — Knox Central’s Nick Martin and South Laurel’s JJ Ramey saw their high school careers come to an end on Saturday after the Kentucky All-Stars dropped a 112-108 decision to the Ohio All-Stars.
Kentucky led by as many as 20 points throughout the game and held a 97-80 advantage with less than six minutes remaining before losing by four points.
Even though their team lost, it’s an experience both players said they’ll never forget.
“This was a great experience,” Ramey said. “I was able to compete against some great players. This was a whole new level. I was able to go against Ohio’s Mr. Basketball and it was tough.”
“This was great. I got to meet a lot of great players from the state of Kentucky, and to be able to play with those guys is pretty awesome," he said. "I’ll never get to do this again, and I consider myself blessed to be able to do it.
“Playing with these guys is unbelievable,” Martin added. “Me and JJ came up here knowing we could do what anybody else could do up here. I thought we showed that tonight.”
Ramey finished the game with 11 points and four rebounds, and also won the Slam Dunk Contest on Friday by edging out University Heights’ Kyky Tandy.
“I was able to contribute," he said. “I had a great coach and he knew what he was talking about and we all listened to him. We played really hard, but just came up short.”
“This was a great three-day weekend,” he added. “I got to meet a lot of great players and I got to play with a lot of great players. I really enjoyed this a lot. This is probably one of my best experiences in my high school career, but going to Rupp (Arena) was big.”
Martin scored two points and came up big on the defensive end, finishing with two rebounds and two blocked shots.
“After I knocked my first shot down, I felt OK,” Martin said. “All I was worried about at first was playing defense. I knew if I play good defense I’d get into the flow of the game.
“This was a great experience, but (making) it to Rupp Arena is No. 1,” he added. “This probably is right up there with that.”
Both players will now further their basketball careers at the college level — Ramey at the University of Pikeville, and Martin at Asbury University.
“It goes by real quick,” Ramey said. “It seems like yesterday I was a freshman. But this is a great way to end my high school career. But I do get to further my career at Pikeville, so I’m excited.”
“I feel like just yesterday I was having surgery on my elbow during my freshman year,” Martin said. “I never thought I’d get over that. To be out here today, I feel honored and blessed to be able to have played one more high school game.”