Boyd County was in no mood for a third defeat this week.
Not even when the opponent was Ashland, ranked in the top 15 of various state polls.
Boyd County, smarting from setbacks to East Carter and Ironton, took it to Kittens from the start and rolled to a 57-39 victory Saturday night at Boyd County Middle School.
“We’ve had spirited practices,” Lady Lions coach Pete Fraley said. “Coming off two losses, we were looking at a three-game losing streak. Our kids stepped up tonight and played well.”
Competing with a sense of urgency, the Boyd County used an active 1-2-2 defense to hold the Kittens to easily their lowest scoring output of the season.
“We marked their shooters and kept them in check,” Fraley said.
The Lady Lions also beat Ashland down the floor for several baskets in building a 17-point lead midway through the second quarter.
“Boyd County really played well,” Ashland coach Bill Bradley said. “They came after us like crazy, and we didn’t match their intensity. We’ve got to do a better job of getting ready. We were not sharp. We weren’t boxing out, getting through screens, or getting the loose balls. Boyd County muscled us around.”
As a result, the Lady Lions ended a five-game losing streak to the Kittens and beat them for only the second time in their last 20 meetings.
“It was a good way to end the weekend for our boys and girls. Boyd County definitely needed that,” said junior forward Taylor Wheeler. Boyd’s boys knocked off Ashland on Friday.
Wheeler, honored before the game for scoring her 1,000th career point on Monday at East Carter, added a game-high 20 to her total against Ashland.
Wheeler had three runouts in the first half to aid the Lady Lions’ fast start. She shot 7-of-11 overall, most of them driving layups.
“Taylor Wheeler, what can you say?,” remarked Fraley. “She’s such a great competitor. Those runouts were important in getting us out to the lead.”
Defensively, Boyd County held Ashland to 26-percent shooting. The Kittens managed only 24 points through three quarters.
“Everybody has a job,” Wheeler said of the zone defense, “and everybody did it tonight. It was a team effort, especially on defense.”
Logan Fraley played a key role with one of her best all-around games of the season. The 5-foot-11 sophomore finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
Fraley said she got the silent treatment from her father/coach after the Lady Lions’ last two games.
“I don’t like losing at all,” Logan said. “We always get hyped up to play Ashland. They are a really good team. You have to come out and play your best game, especially against them.”
Ashland (13-4) surged at the start of the third quarter behind center Haley Sue Foutch to get within 31-22, but Boyd County turned it on again and pulled out to a 20-point lead early in the fourth period.
Emily Stewart scored all nine of her points in the first half for the Lady Lions (13-6), who outrebounded Ashland 42-32.
Alexis Robinson had 19 points and eight rebounds for Ashland, but finished 5-for-19 and connected on just 6-of-12 free throws. The Kittens missed four consecutive 3-pointers to open the game and connected on only 4-of-25 overall.
“Defensively, we jammed it up and did a good job closing out on their 3-point shooters,” Pete Fraley said.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2671.