Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 24, 2014

Blair, Berry bury buzzer-beaters

Rams junior nails running 3-pointer to beat West; Lady Comets rally past Menifee after trailing by 13

Ray Schaefer
For The Independent

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.”


Raceland 68

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).