OLIVE HILL —
There was no doubt who was getting the last shot for West Carter. And it didn’t even matter.
Kyle Brown hit a foul-line jumper with 6 seconds left to push West Carter over Russell, 46-45, on Tuesday at John “Hop” Brown Court.
After fighting double-teams and intense coverage all night, a simple baseline screen opened up Brown for the final shot.
“The guys did a very good job of executing,” said West Carter coach Jeremy Webb. “We got ourselves a really high-percentage look and hit.”
Russell’s game plan was to deny Brown the ball the entire game. It didn’t work as the senior went for a game-high 24 points. He completed a double-double by adding 12 rebounds.
Brown has gotten used to the attention that opposing defenses have given him.
“I’ve tried to work on shooting with hands in my face,” Brown said. “I’ve pretty much gotten that all year. I’ll try to draw a double-team and find an open man and they hit the open shot.”
Fellow senior Dustin Black was there when Brown and the Comets needed him.
Black hit a 3-pointer to bring the lead to two points. Down by one, Black stole the ball as West Carter pressed Russell to set up the last possession.
He finally finished off his string of big plays by setting the screen to free Brown for the Comets’ last shot.
“That’s our seniors stepping up for us,” Webb said. “We only have two this year (Brown and Black) who came back with any experience and that’s what we expect out of them.”
Russell, which was playing without leading scorer Kyle Skaggs for the second straight game, struggled to hit outside shots. Steven Estep was also out for the Red Devils.
The Red Devils finished the game 2 of 12 from the 3-point line, but Russell had a chance to ice the game from the foul line.
Russell went 4 of 11 on free throws in the second half, including Jacob Porter missing two free throws with 2 seconds to go and his team down by one.
“Bottom line is we didn’t take care of the ball and we didn’t hit free throws in the last two or three minutes to seal the win,” said Russell coach Merle Kidwell. “When you don’t do that you’re not going to win. We were 2 of 8 with a seven-point lead.”
With Skaggs out, Russell was forced to rely on post players Lance Evans and Johnny McGuire.
Both finished the game with double-doubles, Evans with 13 points and 13 rebounds and McGuire with 12 and 12. In the first half, McGuire and Evans combined for 16 points.
In the second half, West Carter’s 2-3 zone collapsed to limit Russell’s bigs to nine points between them.
Russell (21-7) finishes the regular season with games at Fleming County and at home against Ashland before getting into district play.
Kidwell isn’t worried about his team heading forward, especially with key players possibly returning from injury in time for the Senior Night matchup against the Tomcats.
“If you can’t get up for Ashland on Senior Night there is something wrong with you,” Kidwell said. “We’ll see how (Skaggs’) toe is this week and next week we’ll see how Estep is and hopefully finish on a high note.”
Skaggs is out with either a broken toe or turf toe.
After starting the season 1-12, West Carter (7-15) looks to be turning a corner.
Back on Jan. 15, Russell defeated West Carter 65-47 in the All “A” Classic.
“It’s a tremendous change,” Brown said. “It shows you how much we’ve come along. It’s a really good win for us.”