What’s an Ashland-Boyd County girls game without a few bumps and bruises?
Or, “beating and banging,” as Lady Lions senior standout Taylor Wheeler labeled it.
The style was just how Boyd County likes it, and so was the score. The Lady Lions outdueled the Kittens, 56-49, on Friday at Boyd County Middle School.
“We were boxing out, being physical with them,” Wheeler said. “We were becoming the old Boyd County team, beating and banging. That’s what we need to be because we’re not the most athletic team.”
Wheeler recorded 18 points and 11 rebounds to lift Boyd County in a rematch of the last three 16th Region championship games. Ashland has won the previous two.
Ashland coach Bill Bradley witnessed the same scene as Wheeler.
“Boyd County made it rough-and-tumble, and that’s how they like it,” Bradley said. “We were late to loose balls, getting boxed out on free throws, and we weren’t drawing charges.
“We had a good effort, but not a great effort,” added Ashland’s coach. “To beat a team like Boyd, you need a great effort.”
Boyd County (5-2) turned a 33-27 hole into a 42-38 lead over the final five minutes of the third quarter. Logan Fraley capped a flurry of four third-period 3-pointers. Freshmen Houston Reeves and Alexis Lunsford connected from long range, and seventh-grader Savannah Wheeler (Taylor’s sister) drilled one from downtown. Savannah’s first varsity career 3-pointer put the Lady Lions ahead, 37-36. They never relinquished the lead.
Lady Lions coach Pete Fraley was pleased with the second-half defensive effort. Between the 3:22 mark of the third quarter until the final basket by Ashland’s Shelby Gransbery with mere seconds left, only one Kitten made a field goal — Alexis Robinson sank three baskets in the span.
“Our defense had been getting shredded all year long,” Fraley said. “We kind of clogged things up for them in the second half. Holding them to one 3-pointer in the second half was huge for us.”
Ashland made just four of 22 3-pointers and shot 35.8 percent from the field. The Lady Lions made just 33 percent of their shots.
Robinson led the Kittens (3-2) with 16 points. Haley-Sue Foutch had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Ashland trailed 11-3 just four-plus minutes in, but charged back behind the bench play of Chelsea Woodson, a junior transfer from Fairview. She was at Huntington before Fairview. The guard banged in a pair of 3-pointers to go with an Alex Young trey to give Ashland a 16-12 advantage after one quarter.
Boyd County faced a five-point gap, at 26-21, at halftime. It battled to within two points by midway through the third. Logan Fraley beat Robinson to the basket for a lay-in and then proceeded to steal the inbounds pass and assist a Reeves bucket to make it 33-31.
Young answered with a 3-ball, but Reeves responded with one of her own. That paved the way for the Savannah Wheeler three, followed by a successful drive to the rim by Lunsford through traffic. After Woodson cut it to 39-38 with two free throws, Logan Fraley broke an 0-fer from 3-point range with a bomb. She finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Wheeler helped Boyd County keep a cushion on the Kittens with her fourth-quarter free-throw shooting. She was 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final minutes.
“She’s such a gamer, she plays with so much energy,” Fraley said.
Overall, the Lady Lions were 17 of 31 from the charity stripe, but they made seven of their final eight attempts.
“I thought their leaders — Taylor and Logan — were composed, and I thought their role players stepped up,” Bradley said of Boyd County. “I thought that was the difference in the game.”
Lunsford tallied 14 points for the Lady Lions. Reeves chipped in eight.
Ashland was without eight-grader Mykasa Robinson, a top reserve. She sustained a concussion against Fleming County earlier in the week.
Kittens junior Kaitlin Hammond exited Friday’s game with 1:23 to go. According to Bradley, she rolled her ankle badly, but should recover.
First Title Team Honored
Prior to tipoff, several members of the 1979 and 1980 Boyd County Lady Lions 16th Region championship teams were recognized. The 1979 title was the girls program’s first of five total. Coach Pam Traylor was in attendance, and was also recognized on the court.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at