Mr. March, as he’s known in this area, deserves a pat on the back. At least say some nice words to him, not only because his Lewis County Lions almost handed Fleming County its first 16th Region loss of the season this past week — that later happened against Russell — but because of what he said after one of the strangest endings to ever surface on a basketball court.
Coach Joe Hampton and the Lions trailed by three, 53-50, when a last-second 3-pointer rimmed out. Game over, right?
Not so fast …
A Fleming County assistant was tagged with two technical fouls, and a subsequent ejection, which put Lewis County on the line for four foul shots and a chance to win the game.
The bizarre part was that time had expired, but since officials and players hadn’t yet left the court when the T’s were called, the Lions were rewarded with the quartet of freebies.
Brett Ruckel, one of the region's top free throw shooters (80 percent), made three of four to send the game to overtime. Fleming County won, 70-61, in OT.
What Hampton told The Ledger Independent of Maysville: “We would have gladly taken a win there but I would honestly rather have played (the overtime) as to win it on a technicality.”
And the sportsmanship award goes to …
Hampton has a knack for getting his teams prepared just right to pull off an uncanny upset this time of year.
If Lewis County nearly beat Fleming County, what’s going to happen over the next couple weeks should be nothing short of fascinating.
Just one week remains before district tournaments tip off. Some of the district tournament seed tiebreakers, determined by coin flips, will be decided this week.
‰West Carter senior Kyle Brown enjoyed a week of milestones. He surpassed Jeremy Webb, the Comets’ current head coach, in the category of most boys varsity games played (120) at the school.
Days later, he set the record for most career steals (219) in school history, breaking the former mark held by Casey Jones.
He also has a chance to score the most points for the Comets.
‰Ashland earned at least a sliver of solace on Friday night with a boys basketball victory over Johnson Central, the school's football district rival.
Logan Salow, who plays both sports in addition to baseball, missed the Tomcats’ heartbreaking one-point district-deciding loss during the football season because of an injury.
However, he couldn't help but smile when asked if he felt like redemption had been had.
“It was pretty awesome,” he said. The ‘Cats have won seven straight games.
‰Johnson Central is still more than capable of winning the 15th Region. The PG is impressed with the Golden Eagles' sheer talent.
Lawrence County keeps surprising me, though.
The Bulldogs have beaten two of the top teams in the 16th Region this season in Ashland and Morgan County.
Maybe the young Bulldogs can actually pull it off and get to Rupp Arena, where fans are used to watching freshmen.
‰Before thinking 15th Region, the Golden Eagles and Dawgs must think smaller picture. The 57th District alone is going to be tough to emerge from.
Pikeville and Sheldon Clark are also major threats in the 57th.
‰East Carter coach Brandon Baker had some complimentary words for senior Quinn Huddle after he led the Raiders to a near upset of Boyd County on Thursday.
“On the outside looking in, it’s probably not as noticeable. But when you're on the inside and you see what all he has to do for us, it could be overwhelming for a lot of players,” Baker said. “He understands each position, each spot on the floor. He's very knowledgeable.”
‰A 46-45 West Carter win over Russell (without star Kyle Skaggs) proved more about the Comets than it did the Red Devils.
After Skaggs’ performance against Fleming County in his return from a toe injury, the Devils and their top dog showed they are just fine.
As for the Comets, coach Jeremy Webb has to get some credit here. He’s guided them to seven wins in their last 11 games after they started 1-12.
‰There is a handful of girls’' matchups to look forward to this week, and it all starts tonight with Huntington St. Joe at Ashland and Lewis County at Boyd County.
The Lady Lions host East Carter on Tuesday. On Friday, Grayson is the place to be as the Lady Raiders hosts the Kittens.
‰Ashland at Russell is the marquee boys matchup. The Red Devils have won two in a row over the Tomcats.
They square off on Friday inside the friendly confines of Marvin Meredith Gymnasium.
‰Ranking teams each week in this region is about as enjoyable as trying to get some shut-eye on a school bus. Speaking of that, Ashland coach Buddy Biggs may turn into author Buddy Biggs, according to a conversation between Biggs and David Payne on a postgame radio show Friday night.
The title: “38 Different Ways to Sleep on a School Bus.” He said he could probably sell about eight or nine copies.
‰On second thought, figuring out this region still may be easier than in college basketball, considering there is a new No. 1 just about every Monday.
How about that five-overtime game between Notre Dame and Louisville?
Some of my favorite parts were the entertaining exchanges between Russ “Russdiculous” Smith and Rick “Puzzled by Russ” Pitino.
1. Fleming County (20-6)
2. Russell (22-7)
3. Morgan County (18-6)
4. Boyd County (16-9)
5. Ashland (19-8)
6. Rowan County (14-12)
7. Lewis County (12-12)
1. Boyd County (19-7)
2. Ashland (19-5)
3. East Carter (21-5)
4. Lewis County (14-10)
5. Fleming County (14-10)
6. Russell (11-14)
7. Rowan County (13-12)
Brett Ruckel hit the 30-point mark in the Lewis County-Fleming County affair. The junior guard followed that up with a 27-point effort against West Carter on Friday.
Note from the QB
A reception for new Boyd County High School football coach John Gilliam will be tonight in the Boyd County Middle School theater area from 5:30 to 6:30 prior to the Boyd County-Lewis County girls basketball game.
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AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.