Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

December 5, 2012

Skaggs nets 26 points; Russell boys, East girls advance in EKC

WEST LIBERTY — Russell senior guard Kyle Skaggs thought he had a quiet night Tuesday.

He was quiet as a Manowar concert — 26 points in the Red Devils' 63-36 win over East Carter in the semifinals of the boys Eastern Kentucky Conference tournament at Morgan County High School.

Skaggs broke the school scoring record last week, and he now has 1,934 career points. Afterward, he was as calm as 10cc singing “I'm Not In Love” in the mid-1970s.

So, did Skaggs think his was a serene 26-point game?

“I guess you could call it that,” he said. “I mean, I've got to do what I can for us to get the win. I kind of got some unlucky calls in the beginning, but we can't do anything about that; we just want to win.”

Russell senior guard Googie Hayes knows he can get away with teasing Skaggs over his cover photo in The Independent's basketball preview. He also knows why the Red Devils are 4-0.

“He's our go-to guy,” Hayes said. “Whenever we need anything, we'll set up a play, run him off some screens, and he'll score.”

Russell coach Merle Kidwell didn't expect such a large victory margin. He said defense was the reason.

“I thought we really guarded them well,” Kidwell said. “They only had four field goals in the first half. Obviously they missed some open shots, but I think our defense had a lot to do with that.”

Skaggs contributed early — a fall-away 15-footer and a 3-pointer to go with Johnny McGuire's stick-back put Russell up, 7-2. There was one worry: Skaggs drew his second foul less than three minutes into the game (he picked up his third diving for a loose ball with 6.4 seconds left in the half).

East (2-1) took its only lead at 8-7 on Kyle Stewart's bucket with 3:53 left in the first quarter. For the next seven minutes and 31 seconds, it was Antarctica in January — not a point until Jordan Burchett knocked down a layup with 3:48 before halftime.

Not having Skaggs for much of the first half didn't matter a lot. Not when Hayes, Jacob Porter, Steven Estep and Lance Evans combined for 19 uncontested points and a 26-10 lead midway through the second quarter.

There was a myriad of ways Hayes, Porter, Estep and Evans contributed.

Hayes: four points, two assists and forcing a held ball when East's Connor Greene tried to drive for a second quarter layup. On the first assist, he threatened to drive to his right but stutter-stepped and hit Evans, who drained a 3-pointer.

Evans: seven points, including a stick-back and a layup on Hayes' second assist.

Estep: four points, including a stick-back of his own miss and jumper on an Evans-to-Porter-to Estep double pass.

“We just lost our heads, lost our edge,” East coach Brandon Baker said. “We never could recover. Russell took full advantage.”

Porter: six points, including a clean-up of Ramsey Mullins' miss and a layup.

When Skaggs came back late in the second quarter, he scored off a Hayes screen, a fast-break layup and a baseline drive when Hayes passed to him in stride.

The Red Devils meet Fleming County for the championship at approximately 8 p.m. Thursday. Kidwell said containing the Panthers' Darion Burns and Troy Steward, who each scored 28 points in Monday's double-overtime semifinal win over Rowan County, is a concern.

And Hayes? His postgame thoughts included Rupp Arena and the state tournament, but he was careful to not say anything that would appear in Flemingsburg locker rooms.

“Can't wait,” Hayes said.

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