It seems like every time East Carter and Boyd County meet it’s a defensive slugfest. On Tuesday, Boyd County was able to grab the knockout stop.
Boyd County held East Carter to 39-percent shooting to pick up a 45-42 win at Boyd County Middle School.
Both teams’ average points per game are in the high-50s, but defense has typically prevailed throughout the series.
“Anytime we play East it’s a defensive struggle,” said Boyd County coach Pete Fraley. “They know what we do and we know what they do. Both teams get after it pretty well.”
The Lady Lions threw in a mix of man-to-man and matchup zone defenses that fared well against East Carter’s offense.
With 14.9 seconds left and East Carter down by three, Boyd County cranked up the man-to-man and forced a contested 3-point shot that didn’t touch the rim as time expired.
Fraley admits while sometimes switching defenses can be confusing, his team always gives it the best effort.
“Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re doing, but it’s confusing to everybody,” Fraley said. “It was a desperation shot at the end. That’s the only thing we wanted to give up. We did a nice job getting out on people.”
Boyd County reached a 16-7 lead early in the first half behind the aggressive play of Emily Stewart.
Stewart finished with nine points, with all of her field goals coming off of drives to the lane. Fraley said in the first half, it was Stewart who kept giving the Lady Lions the advantage.
“She kept us in the game right there,” Fraley said. “It was nip and tuck and she was going to the basket and knocking some down. She just does a good job at running our basketball team.”
Bryana Greenhill led the Lady Raiders with 15 points, including three 3-pointers in the first half.
East Carter coach Hager Easterling believes after Greenhill got hot from deep, it opened up Kelsey Stumbo in the paint to do some damage.
“I thought Boyd was trying to take away the outside from Bryana,” Easterling said. “When you do that it opens up opportunity somewhere else. I thought that was when we started going inside to Kelsey.
“Kelsey is growing up and maturing and she is turning into someone who is going to be reckoned with on the inside.”
Stumbo finished with 13 points — 12 came in the paint — and added six rebounds.
Meanwhile, the other Lady Raiders struggled to convert from the free-throw line.
Coming in, East Carter had won 13 straight games, but it has struggled from the free-throw line the entire season. Tuesday was no different as it went just 5 of 14 from the charity stripe.
“It’s ridiculous,” Easterling said. “I can understand if you’re not a good shooter walking up there and doing that, but daggum, we’ve got good shooters shooting in the 50s (percent). I’m tired of it and they should be tired of it too.”
East Carter made a run to close out the first half and get the deficit to 24-23, but the third quarter opened with a Logan Fraley explosion.
The sophomore scored six straight points for the Lady Lions after missing her last four shots in the first half. She finished with 11 points and started a run that gave Boyd County a little breathing room.
Coach Fraley once again credited the defense.
“We hit them with a different look and got a couple steals and some runouts,” Fraley said. “Getting that lead was good and we were able to hold on there.”
Taylor Wheeler scored a game-high 17 points. After Boyd County scored only three points in just fewer than six minutes into the fourth quarter, Wheeler forced up a shot that got Boyd County scoring again.
Wheeler scored 1- in the second half and had two 3-pointers, an aspect that Fraley thinks will make her more dangerous in the long run.
“Everyone knows she can drive,” Fraley said. “If she shoots the 3 like she has been you’re going to have to go get her, and that opens up the lane for her more.”
Boyd County (21-7) has won nine of its last 10 and finishes the season with two road games at Rowan County and Magoffin County on Thursday and Friday before opening up the 64th District tournament against Fairview.
East Carter (22-6) hosts Ashland on Friday before opening the 62nd District tournament against Elliott County.
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at email@example.com or (606)326-2658.