Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

March 5, 2014

Girls 16th Region: Grand entrance for Foutch, Kittens (video included)

Foutch hits 1,000-point mark as Ashland advances past Lewis Co.

MOREHEAD — Ashland junior Haley-Sue Foutch reached the 1,000-point milestone Wednesday night, but with a different destination in mind.

Foutch’s 17-point, eight-rebound performance helped propel the Kittens past 20-game winner Lewis  County, 49-45, and into tonight’s 16th Region Tournament semifinals at Johnson Arena.

Ashland has won the last two region championships and recognized 63rd District winner Lewis County as a major hurdle in returning to the title game.

“Getting to 1,000 points is a great accomplishment, but I’m more concerned about what is ahead,” Foutch said. “I know what we’re tying to do. We had to have this game.”

The 5-foot-11 post player did her share despite having to contend with Lewis County’s inside combination of 6-2 Savannah Anderson and 6-1 Erica Blake.

Foutch stepped outside to do key damage, connecting on her sixth and seventh 3-pointers of the season.

She started Ashland’s scoring with a bomb from the corner, then opened the second half with another triple to put the Kittens ahead to stay.

“Foutch always seems to step up and play well against us,” Lewis County coach Jay Fite said. “I thought in that third quarter she was a tough matchup for us.”

Ashland extended the margin to as much as nine points late in the third quarter. But Lewis County inched closer during a fourth period in which both teams struggled mightily to find the basket from the field or free-throw line.

After the Lady Lions finally cut it to 45-42 with 1:03 remaining, Foutch responded by sinking two free throws for Ashland’s first points in almost five minutes.

Lewis County got a 3-pointer from Abby Pick to close to 48-45 before Ashland’s Mykasa Robinson made one of two free throws with 11 seconds left to set the final score.

Ashland coach Bill Bradley was satisfied with the result despite the rocky fourth quarter.

“We kept our composure,” Bradley said. “We have lost some close games where we let missed free throws and turnovers affect us. I thought we kept our cool tonight even when the free throws were not falling.”

Lewis County had its share of opportunities but missed nine of 10 floor shots and three of four free throws in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter.

“There were a couple possessions we would like to have back,” the Lady Lions coach said. “We had a couple open looks where I thought we rushed the shot. But I definitely can’t fault the effort.”

Anderson got off to a strong start with nine first-quarter points before running into foul trouble. She finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.

Sophomore guard Jaycey Fite made three treys in the first half as the Lady Lions took a 25-24 lead, but Ashland held her scoreless the rest of the way.

“I thought our defense was outstanding the whole second half,” Bradley said. “We lost Jaycey a few times in the first half and she made us pay.”

Forward Shelby Gransbery, an often unheralded part of Ashland’s success, gave her team a lift on both ends of the floor with 12 points, seven rebounds and solid defense.

“Shelby played great and stayed in the whole game,” Foutch said. “As a team, we are really focusing in practice on being strong, keeping level-headed and attacking the basket.”

Junior point guard Alexis Robinson, MVP of the past two regional tournaments, sliced her way inside repeatedly on the way to 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists.  

In the end, the Kittens managed to squeeze past Lewis County for the second time this season. They won the earlier matchup 63-61 on Dec. 5 in Vanceburg.   

“Tonight was a tough first-round draw for us, and I would like to think Ashland felt the same way,” Jay Fite said. “I hope we take this one personally and it does sting for a while.”

The bright side for the Lady Lions is they don’t have to say goodbye to any seniors.        

Ashland (22-8) advances to the semifinals for the 10th time under Bradley’s direction and will meet Fleming County, a 48-25 winner over West Carter.

Tickets will be on sale this morning at 9 in the Ashland Blazer office.     

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.

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