Siva leads team into KOB finals

With Louisville head coach Rick Pitino sitting front and center at Fairdale High School on Monday evening Peyton Siva had his signature performance at the King of the Bluegrass.

Peyton Siva is writing a remarkable story at the 2008 King of the Bluegrass holiday tournament hosted by Fairdale High School. His team overcame delays in their flight out of Nevada after playing in another holiday tournament. Once in Louisville, with part of the team still delayed back west, Franklin faced the challenge of going up against a much larger and well coached Louisville Male High School squad. Next up, Siva had to overcome a sprained ankle to lead Franklin (WA) past perennial powerhouse PRP in the quarterfinal round. Yet with everything else said, it seems Siva saved his best performance of the tournament to date for the Coral Reef Barracudas.

Siva entered the gym with his Seattle Franklin teammates, the gritty floor general looked as if he may never play on Monday evening. Hampered with a very noticeable limp Siva attempted to warm up and get loose for the game against Coral Reef (FL). Yet when the ball was tipped Siva was ready to put his mark on the game.

As the game began the first crucial blows were handed out by Coral Reef's versatile forwards Charles Hankerton Jr. and Jerron Granberry. Displaying a silky smooth midrange jump shot and tenacious aggressiveness on the offensive glass, Hankerton was unstoppable. Against the much smaller Franklin frontline the physical Barracuda squad pushed the lead out to as many as 12 points in the first half. Franklin came storming back as Siva knocked down a couple of long distance three point shots as well as dishing out 4 assists in the first half as time ran down. Franklin's defense also turned it up a notch as Siva had another monster block and takeaway on one play in particular. At the half the Coral Reef lead had been cut to 43-36.

The second half began with Franklin using a mixture of zone pressure defenses that would make Louisville Coach Rick Pitino proud. Siva and company then turned up the volume and got out in transition making the larger Coral Reef squad play an open court game. Once in transition, Siva (even on a bum ankle) was unstoppable with the ball in his hands. Forcing the issue on drives and taking his team on his shoulders, Siva displayed the type of gritty effort and leadership that will make him an impact player immediately at the collegiate level.

Though still trailing 68-66 heading into the final quarter Franklin clearly had momentum on their side. Finally, Franklin claimed their first lead of the game on a transition steal and layup by wing Chris Holmes with 5:46 remaining in the contest. But Coral Reef would not go without a fight as Hankerton continued to dominate the paint and perimeter with equally lethal effectiveness. Knocking down 18 footers and taking his man off the dribble all night long Hankerton finished the night with a game high 36 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal before fouling out on a charge with about a minute to play.

Siva though made the game winning plays down the stretch as Coral Reef tried face guarding him as well as double-teaming him as he came across half-court, but Peyton was not to be deterred. Siva displayed great explosiveness and superb athleticism as he easily shredded the Barracuda defense on drives to the bucket earning several trips to the free-throw line. At the free-throw stripe and with the game in the balance Siva had ice water in his veins as he knocked down 17 of 18 at the charity stripe including 14-14 in the second half. And with the game in the balance Siva gave the Quakers the lead for good 90-88 with 2.6 seconds remaining in the contest.

On a night in what could be a KOB MVP making performance, Siva finished the game with 32 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, and a block. Franklin was also paced by forward Chris Holmes' 19 points and 4 rebounds, and Dominique Wilson chipped in with 13 points and 3 rebounds. Backing up Charles Hankerton's monster effort, Coral Reef also got a great game from Jerron Granberry adding 20 points and 5 rebounds.

Franklin will meet newly reinstated Aaron Cosby and the J-Town Chargers in the Canfield Development King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic at Fairdale final Tuesday at 7:30 pm.

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