Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

December 4, 2012

Eight is enough: Fleming nips Rowan

WEST LIBERTY — Fleming County juniors Troy Steward and Darion Burns were thinking about the eight straight losses to Rowan County.

Steward and Burns emphatically helped end the streak Monday. Both scored 28 points to lead the Panthers to a 81-76 double-overtime win in the Eastern Kentucky Conference tournament at Morgan County High School.

“We both had to come up big for our team because we're the two best players on the team,” Burns said.

Fittingly, Steward and Burns secured the win.

Twelve seconds after Rowan County's Justin Graham made two free throws to give the Vikings a 76-75 lead, Steward knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key over Rowan County's Trevor Newsome. Less than a minute later, Burns stole a pass, dribbled the length of the court and converted a 3-point play.

“Coach (head coach Mark Starns) told us to be active and stuff, so I was waiting for the pass to come back,” Burns said.

For the night, Burns was 11-of-17 from the field, with eight assists, five steals and just two turnovers. “The assists I like the most because I like to get my team involved,” he said.

As Steward heard his scoring line recited — 9-of-27 from the field, 7-of-19 from 3-point range — he cringed a little, which he chalked up to not being ready to shoot when passes came. He didn't hesitate to take the late three.

“I was wide open, I thought I could make it, so I shot it,” Steward said.

Rowan County coach Shawn Thacker said Steward was a concern.

“He'll shoot it from anywhere,” Thacker said “When he arrives in the parking lot, he's capable of shooting the basketball; you've got to get there on him.”

Starns said the Panthers and Vikings took turns going on long scoring runs. “When it looked bleak, our guys found a way to make basketball plays, and we gutted out a double-overtime victory,” he said.

Steward also had a chance to end the game after 32 minutes. Steward passed to Burns with about seven seconds left, but Burns' 5-footer fell short with two ticks left.

It was Burns' turn to try to end the game in the first overtime. He scored the Panthers' last five points, but he missed a short jumper with 3.7 seconds remaining.

Both Starns and Rowan County's Shawn Thacher agreed the most important statistic besides the final score was the Panthers' overwhelming 32-7 victory in points off turnovers. Fleming County committed just seven miscues, while Rowan County suffered through 25.

“I just think us changing defenses, trying to keep them guessing what we were doing, helped us a lot,” Starns said. “Our matchup zone at the end probably is what bailed us out … Our full-court pressure bothered them some, our half-court traps bothered them some, but when we had to reach down and get the win, our 25 (matchup zone) bailed us out.”

Rowan County senior center Matt Brown grabbed 19 rebounds to go with his 16 points and three blocked shots. Thacker's son, Tyler Thacker, led the Vikings (1-1) with 20 points and six assists, and Josh Barnard added 13 points and eight rebounds.

Fleming County meets Russell or East Carter for the title at approximately 8 p.m Thursday.

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