Playing for the first time in eight days due to a deep freeze across the area, Ashland’s defense had a hungry look.
The Kittens played takeaway from the outset in overwhelming Greenup County 60-27 on Tuesday night in a rare appearance at Alumni Gym.
Ashland showed some offensive rust early, but used a wave of steals, deflections and interceptions to open a 23-point halftime lead and never looked back.
“Their pressure was amazing, especially in the second quarter,” said first-year Greenup County coach Anthony Gordon. “Ashland is just so much more athletic than us. Our youth and inexperience shows when we play the top four teams in the region.”
Tuesday’s makeup game served as a tune-up for the Kittens, who are scheduled to play at sixth-ranked East Carter on Thursday.
“That’s quite a matchup,” said Gordon, adding that he would probably be watching in Grayson if his Lady Musketeers didn’t have a game that night at Lewis County.
Ashland improved to 13-4, with junior forward Shelby Gransbery leading the blitz against a Greenup County lineup that included two freshmen and a sophomore.
Gransbery scored a career-high 20 points in three quarters, with most of her baskets coming on layups off turnovers caused by the Kittens’ press and active 1-3-1 zone.
“We played really good defense,” Gransbery said. “I would rather push the ball than set up offensively. I think we play better that way.”
As a result of Ashland’s pressure, Greenup County piled up 21 turnovers in the first half while going 3-for-15 from the field.
“The defense really got us going with some steals and layups,” Kittens coach Bill Bradley said. “Our game plan was to shut down their two guards. I thought we did a great job on (Micah) Leslie and (Sydney) Webb.”
Overall, sisters Alexis and Mykasa Robinson each had five of Ashland’s 16 steals.
“Shelby, Alexis, Mykasa and Chelsea (Woodson) all created a lot of pressure,” Bradley said.
The 5-11 Gransbery scored 10 points in the first half, then helped cause further havoc at the top of Ashland’s 1-3-1 defensive set. She had Ashland’s first four baskets of the third quarter, then followed teammate Alex Young’s 3-pointer with a steal and layup to make it 49-15.
Gransbery finished 9-of-13 from the field and made both of her free throws.
“I feel good about it,” she said. “It gives me more confidence, which is what I need.”
Alexis Robinson, playing her first game since verbally committing to Colorado University, got off to a slow start offensively but heated up in the second quarter by hitting three consecutive 3-pointers. All 11 of her points came in the first half.
Haley-Sue Foutch supplied 12 rebounds and eight points for the Kittens, while Mykasa Robinson added nine points.
For Greenup County (8-10), freshman Haley Valandingham scored 11 points. The Lady Musketeers totaled 32 turnovers and shot 25 percent from the floor.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2671.