Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

December 28, 2012

‘Important’ victory for balanced Tomcats

ASHLAND — Ashland answered the bell again in its Ashland Invitational Tournament opener.

The Tomcats turned back young and talented Sheldon Clark 71-58 behind a balanced effort at James A. Anderson Gymnasium Thursday night.

Coach Buddy Biggs understands the importance of the game to diehard Tomcat fans.

“Trust me, to a lot of fans this is just as important as any game all season,” he said. “People want to win that game. It’s important, obviously. They put a lot of emphasis on it.”

The victory sends Ashland into tonight’s 8:45 semifinal against South Laurel, which received a first-round bye after Henderson County’s arrival was delayed because of snowy weather.

Undefeated Newport Catholic meets Russell in the first semifinal game tonight at 7.

The Tomcats (8-3) snapped a two-game losing streak by relying on their typically balanced attack.

Senior Logan Salow scored 18 in his best offensive game of the season while Nick Miller had 15 points and Zach Hart and Steven Friley added 10 points apiece. Dikembe Dixson collected nine points and seven rebounds and Ross Thompson had eight assists – one-third of the Tomcats’ total.

Sheldon Clark (7-2) mainly relied on sophomore guard Chase Parsley, who finished with 25 points. Slick-shooting forward Chase Kirk scored 21, including 15 in the first half.

Kirk did that in 12 minutes. He was whistled for his third foul at the 4:25 mark and sat out the rest of the half. His coach, Frankie Smith II, had to do some sitting too after being whistled for a technical foul seconds after the offensive foul sent Kirk to the bench.

“I have to be careful questioning an official’s call so I won’t,” he said. “But I do feel it had an effect on the game.”

Kirk had tied the game with his third 3-pointer of the half to tie the game at 24. The Cardinals had the ball again with a chance to take the lead when Kirk was called for the offensive foul.

Back-to-back triples from Salow put the Tomcats in front 36-28 and they never trailed again.

Biggs pointed to a rebounding advantage and 24 assists on 27 baskets as the key statistics in the win. He was also happy to see Salow, who seems fully recovered from a football ankle injury, finding the range.

“This was Logan’s best game so far,” Biggs said.

Another key for the Tomcats was keeping Dylan James scoreless. The Cardinals have mostly relied on Parsley, Kirk and James.

“We wanted to take James out of the game and we held him to zero,” Biggs said. “They’re good. Parsley is one of the better point guards we’ll sell all year.”

Sheldon Clark made a run at the Tomcats, pulling within 44-41, but Hart ignited an 8-0 run.

“We turned the ball over some and the offensive boards were a big issue,” Smith said. “I thought we had some looks (in the second half) that didn’t go from Kirk and James. But our guys competed.”

Smith was upset enough about the technical foul he received that he complained to 16th Region assigning secretary Joe Billman in the hallway outside the dressing rooms after the game.

Sheldon Clark plays Henderson County in today’s 4 p.m. consolation bracket game. Boyd County and West Jessamine meet in the opener at 2:30 p.m.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

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