Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

March 5, 2014

Girls 16th Region: Fleming flies by West (with video)

MOREHEAD — Video clips from Wednesday’s 16th Region Tournament quarterfinal between Fleming County and West Carter aren’t likely to show up on any offensive instructional videos.

That’s just fine with the Panthers, though. They’re happy to scrap out wins with defense and rebounding, and that’s what they did in closing on a 25-6 run in a 48-25 beating of the Lady Comets.

Fleming County has gone about its business a little differently than usual this season, though.

“Defense has always been the mainstay of our program, and this year defensively we’ve kind of struggled at times,” coach Kristy Orem said. “And to see me play a zone is something that’s not seen in our region a lot of times, but we’ve had to go to that, and for once we can really be effective at that because we have Martina on the inside, and we’ve never really had a post player like Martina since I’ve been here.”

“Martina” is Panthers junior Martina Lytle. She had a game-high 13 points, 11 of them in the first half, and tied Journey Steward for the team high in rebounds with seven.

“We just knew that we had to attack the basket and we had to make sure that we played good defense,” Lytle said, “and we had to stay out of foul trouble and focus on doing what we do best instead of focusing on them.”

Steward also had 10 points and four blocks, and Cristi Petersen netted 11 points for Fleming County (20-10), which won its 11th straight game.

The Panthers outrebounded West Carter (11-15) 38-25, and they held the Lady Comets to two field goals in the final 12:55 of the game.

Lexie Berry and Leatha Reynolds scored six points apiece to pace West Carter, which shot 9-for-43, or 20.9 percent, from the field.

The win is Fleming County’s second in the region tournament since moving to the 16th Region before the 2005-2006 season.

The game was tied at 14 with under 2:30 to go in the first half before Fleming County scored the last five points of the quarter to finally get a little separation.

Steward scored down low, and with the Lady Comets holding for the last shot of the first half, Abby Fearin stole the ball and Lytle cleaned the offensive glass in transition and converted an and-1 with :00.4 showing on the clock.

Orem called that play key to her team settling down.

“We had 10 turnovers in the first half. That’s uncharacteristic of us,” Orem said. “And so I think Abby getting that steal and (Lytle scoring) those (three) points at the end, I thought that was big for us.”

So did Lytle.

“Any time that we get rebound putbacks, our team just gets momentum,” she said.

Stacey Easterling scored five straight points on a 3-pointer and a layup to get the Lady Comets within 23-19 with 4:55 to go in the third quarter, but Petersen hit a stickback and a free throw, Lytle scored down low and Tayler Jett drained a trey.

After Berry’s and-1, Rachel Boyd hit a 3 at the third-quarter horn to put Fleming County up 34-22.

The Panthers then racked up the next 14 points. West Carter avoided being shut out in the fourth quarter only when seventh-grader Chyann Zeigler canned a 3 with three seconds remaining.

“I think really what hurt us more than anything was fatigue,” Lady Comets coach Bart Stevens said. “We got tired and just couldn’t move as much as we needed to. We’re not exactly a great bunch of offensive players. We play really hard, but we’re not a great bunch of offensive basketball players.”

On top of that, West Carter sorely missed two scoring threats who have gone down with knee injuries, Stevens said — Brooke Adkins, who tore her ACL in January, and Morgan Berry, who sustained an LCL injury in the 62nd District Tournament. The extent of Berry’s injury isn’t yet known.

Fleming County had never won a game in Ellis T. Johnson Arena. Its only previous 16th Region Tournament win, in 2011, was when district winners hosted quarterfinals and the Panthers beat East Carter in Grayson.

Fleming County beat West Carter for the third time this season and the ninth straight time overall. The Lady Comets last won a region tournament game in 2006 and are 2-9 in the tournament since reaching six straight region finals from 1998 to 2003.

Considering West Carter was within striking distance deep into the third quarter, Stevens wasn’t too displeased.

“We played hard,” he said. “The score got away from us there, which I didn’t want to happen, but it did. I can’t say anything negative. I’m just happy that the kids got to come over here and do this.”

The Panthers advance to tonight’s semifinals to face Ashland, which beat Lewis County, 49-45, in Wednesday’s first quarterfinal.

“At this point, we all know what each other’s gonna do,” Orem said. “We all know (Kittens coach Bill Bradley) has the best player in the region (point guard Alexis Robinson). We know we’ve gotta guard, we know we’ve gotta be able to step up defensively, and we know on the offensive end we’re gonna have to come out and do a better job taking care of the basketball what we did.”

ZACK KLEMME can be reached at zklemme@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2658.

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