For The Independent
MOUNT STERLING —
Bill Bradley was too tired Saturday to do anything but smile and giggle.
Ashland's girls basketball coach had good reason to be gleeful. The Kittens survived three Montgomery County rallies and escaped the Lady Indians' gym with a 60-55 win.
“This was our third game in 50 hours, I think,” Bradley said. “I'm a little fatigued at my age, 58.”
Saturday's was Ashland's (11-3) largest victory margin of its three-game road trip. Thursday, Ironton beat the Kittens, 50-46, but Friday, the Kittens squeaked past Lexington Lafayette, 56-53.
What's more, Ashland improved to 3-3 over its last six (in addition to Ironton, the Kittens fell to Franklin County and Christian Academy-Louisville).
“Three losses against real quality teams, that's why we play the schedule we do,” Bradley said. “We'll learn from it, see different styles.”
At times Saturday, it seemed there were as many up-downs as an Ashland football team practice in 95-degree August heat.
After the Kittens rolled to a 20-7 lead after one quarter, a Macie Spence bucket (she scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds) started a revival that eventually became a 12-2 Montgomery County run. Erica Rogers — who led her team with 18 points — had five and Keria Lockett added four, which left the Lady Indians behind by just 22-19 midway through the second stanza.
The Kittens countered that when Allie Slone matched Haley Sue Foutch's 10 first-half points, and Kaylyn Gambill's four capped an 8-2 run for a 36-26 halftime lead.
When Montgomery County (13-5) answered that with a 10-2 third-quarter streak, Ashland led by just 45-40 with a quarter to go. Which is when Alexis Robinson's two 3-pointers and Gambill's one gave Ashland a 56-46 edge.
Was that enough? Well, no — after Olivia Colliver and Lockett combined for nine points and Rogers knocked down a three, Montgomery trailed by just 58-55 with 38.7 seconds left.
Robinson led Ashland with 14 points. Foutch and Slone added 11 apiece, and Foutch had nine rebounds.
Slone was not so much tired as beaten up — she was on the business end of a Spence screen early in the fourth quarter. “I got the breath knocked out of me,” she said.
Montgomery County, the two-time defending 10th Region champion, struggled to a 62-58 win Friday over regional rival George Rogers Clark. Coach Janie Robinson expected a fast pace from Ashland.
“Our strength is inside, and their strength is up-and-down,” she said. “We weren't very disciplined the first half; we tried to play that game with them, which is not our game. They really jumped on us for that.”
Foutch scored just six points against Lafayette. Against Montgomery County last night, you could have spent much of the first quarter calculating the ways she atoned.
After Spence's bucket gave her team a 4-2 lead, Foutch converted her own steal by splitting two Lady Indian defenders.
After Ashland's Sydney Cullop and Rogers traded 3-pointers, Foutch's two offensive rebounds and stick-backs in 27 seconds cleaned up two Robinson misses.
Foutch finished with an offensive rebound — one of her seven and eight overall — over a defender for her final two points of the period. If one is counting, that's eight points.
Robinson managed just two points in the first half, but she was a factor in other ways: she had two steals and a block.
And Montgomery County? A scoring slide — not a point in the final 4:19 of the first quarter, a drought that didn't end until Spence's field goal a little more than a minute into the second.
Ashland finally secured the win thanks to a free throw apiece from Allie Slone and Robinson over the final 27 seconds. Rogers missed a three with a second to go.
Robinson said Ashland was in good enough physical shape Saturday to withstand Montgomery County's runs. Foutch said she felt so good, she could've played a second game — which she followed with a quick retraction.
“I'm just kidding,” she said. “I mean, I'm tired, but the games really get that adrenaline going.”