OLIVE HILL —
She'd missed 10 of 11 shots.
West Carter junior Lexie Berry was nevertheless the reason the Lady Comets are playing tonight. Her buzzer-beating layup on the 12th attempt gave the Lady Comets a 58-56 win in Thursday's Touchstone Energy 16th Region All “A” semifinal at John “Hop” Brown Court.
The Lady Comets thus meet Morgan County for the title at 6 tonight. West, the defending regional small-school champion, goes for its third title in four years.
Berry knows late-game heroics: her basket sent a 64-61 loss at Chesapeake (Ohio) to overtime. And last night?
“It put us in the championship,” she said.
Morgan Berry led West with 29 points, but it was Lexie who put her team in position for her own heroics when she hit two free throws with six seconds to go. Lexie said the free throws were much more stressful.
“I was more nervous (at the line) than any time in my life,” Lexie said.
After the free throws, Menifee County's Liz Dotson took the ball out of bounds. She looked for sophomore Ashton Woodard (who led all scorers with 30 points and went over 1,000 for her career) with a baseball pass, which ultimate sailed over everyone to the opposite baseline.
West coach Bart Stevens said Menifee County was paying the most attention to Lexie's younger sister, seventh-grader Morgan Berry when seventh-grader Madison Hanshaw tried to inbound the ball.
“I saw everybody shifting to one side, and I had to go to the open spot,” Lexie Berry said.
The open spot was the left low block. After Hanshaw found her, she took a dribble and lofted the ball over Woodard.
Stevens was hardly surprised over what Lexie did. “She doesn't wear her emotions on her sleeve,” he said. “She wears them on her feet.”
West overcame a 42-30 deficit after three quarters by overwhelming the Ladycats, 28-14, in the fourth. The main reason was its Diamond press defense, which forced 16 of Menifee County's 23 turnovers in the second half and led to 19 points.
The Lady Comets (6-9) have lost four of their last six games. They were hurting a little before they took the court. Junior point guard Brooke Adkins tore an anterior cruciate ligament in one knee and is out for the season (she's expected to have surgery Feb. 19).
It took Woodard a little more than five minutes to dent the scoresheet, but once she did, West had no answer.
There were the three baskets in 46 seconds. There was the three-point play with 6:09 left in the second quarter, including the milestone field goal.
And finally: the layup and six free throws. That’s 17 points at intermission, 5-of-5 from the field, 7-of-7 from the line – and 58.6 percent of the Ladycats’ scoring.
Morgan Berry had 12 points at the break.
Except for Woodard, by halftime Menifee County's offense was largely frozen — the rest of the team made just five of 19 shots. West was Antarctic-cold, too — 8-for-27 (29.6 percent) at the half to go with 11 turnovers.
Like the first quarter, Woodard didn't score again until late in the third — her five points helped Menifee up, 43-30. West, meanwhile, didn't score for nearly three minutes and had just Morgan Berry's five points over the last four minutes.
Morgan Berry's nine points, Leatha Reynolds' four and three from Lyla Evans closed Menifee County's lead to 51-46, with 3:13 left.
After the game, Lexie Berry deflected the credit to Morgan.
“My sister is better than me,” Lexie said, “ … I'm proud of her.”
West Carter 67 (OT)
When Raceland coach Bob Trimble needs a game-winning shot, he knows to whom he should turn.
That would be junior guard Jacob Blair, and he forevermore delivered. His 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer sent the Rams to the win. The shot was the last of his game-high 26 points.
Raceland almost didn't get the shot in.
After West's Braden Brown’s free throw with 3.7 seconds left, sophomore Carson Christian ran the length of the baseline before finding Blair, who then dribbled down the court.
“It was a little chaotic,” Blair said.
Thursday was also the latest chapter in Raceland's (9-5) ongoing turnaround. After a 63-32 home wipeout to Rowan County Jan. 11 and a 74-45 embarrassment at Lewis County two days later, the Rams have won their last three, including 66-38 at Russell and 58-45 over Menifee County in the All “A” first round last Saturday.
Trimble said there were multiple opportunities to avoid overtime and too many turnovers, but he has noticed something good. “I think our guys are making more of a commitment to play harder, try to do the things we want to do,” he said.
West fell to 4-10, and the Comets have lost five of their last six. Coach Jeremy Webb liked his team's effort last night, but needed less than a second to determine what went wrong.
“We missed 21 free throws (West was 25-of-46), and that's just hard to overcome,” Webb said. “When you think of that, we shouldn't have put ourselves in the situation to get beat at the end of the game.”
Especially in overtime. West missed four of eight from the line.
Blair's bomb was actually the second clutch bucket — sophomore Tyler Morris' layup with four seconds to go in regulation tied the game at 55-all.
After West's Jacob Layne (he, Ben Jordan and Dalton Spurlock each scored 14 points) opened the overtime with a free throw, Blair's two-pointer put the Rams up, 57-56.
From there, lots of neck twisting to follow the scoring.
Start with Jordan's field goal. Follow with: a Tyler Morris (10 points) 3-pointer for 60-60, Austin Gee's 18-footer, Blair's three; Tristan Mosbey's free throw; and Zach Kelly’s one point.
That was before the final seconds.
Brown dropped in a layup with 37 ticks remaining, and he grabbed a rebound after the Rams' Zach Kelly missed a three with six seconds left.
Menifee Co. 16 13 13 14 – 56
West Carter 15 7 8 28 – 58
Menifee Co. (56): Sexton 4, Woodard 30, Evans 5, Dotson 9, Back 2, Baldwin 6.
West Carter (58): Evans 5, L. Berrie 9, Raynolds 6, M. Berry 29, S. Easterling 7, Hanshaw 2.
Free throws: MC 20-32; WC 13-25. Three-pointers: MC 4 (Dotson 2, Woodard, Evans); WC 5 (M. Berry 2, S. Easterling 2, L. Berry).
Raceland 8 12 13 22 13 — 68
West Carter 6 11 16 22 12 — 67
Raceland: (68): Messer 8, Christian 4, Davidson 2, Blair 26, Pennington 11, Kelly 7, Morris 10.
West Carter (67): Spurlock 14, B. Brown 11, Hanshaw 1, D. Brown 3, Layne 14, Gee 4, Roe 2, Mosbey 4, Jordan 14.
Free throws: R 19-28; WC 25-46. 3-Pointers: Raceland - 5 (Blair 2, Morris 2, Kelly); WC - 2 (Spurlock, Lyane).
Rams junior nails running 3-pointer to beat West; Lady Comets rally past Menifee after trailing by 13
OLIVE HILL —
She'd missed 10 of 11 shots.
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VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
- Fleming hangs tough to beat Lewis Fleming County locked into another fight against Lewis County, which beat the Panthers earlier this season, before winning 66-58 on Monday in Morehead. Wilder Williams posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Panthers, who face Ashland on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
- GALLERY: Ashland gets by Greenup County, will meet Fleming in region final Ashland's Steven Friley scored 21 points Monday to lead the Tomcats to an 81-61 win over Greenup County in the 16th Region semifinal in Morehead.
Kittens clamoring for more at state
Ashland girls basketball coaches went the extra mile, and a whole bunch more, to get a first-hand scouting report on the Kittens’ opponent for the State Tournament.
Head coach Bill Bradley and assistant Phil Wittich drove all the way to Henderson — 5 hours, 20 minutes one way Bradley said on the way home — to take in Sunday’s Second Region championship game.
Henderson County, playing on its home floor, defeated University Heights 67-54. The Lady Colonels went unbeaten in their region this season and are 24-5 overall.
EKC hands out hardware
The Eastern Kentucky Conference handed out its 2014 awards on Monday afternoon at a luncheon at Carter Caves.
Barracudas earn kudos from coach
Ashland Area YMCA swimmers impressed coach Ryan Ferguson from start to finish in the three-day Kentucky Y Competitive Swim League State Meet.
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- VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights