A little persistence can go a long way.
Playing their third game in three days, the Ashland Kittens were slow to start Saturday afternoon, but dug their claws in midway through the game.
After trailing 16-9 to end the first quarter, the rest of the game was all Ashland, as the Kittens controlled every facet of the game to grab a 61-47 victory over Logan (Ohio) in the Tackett’s Body Shop Shootout at Ironton High School.
Instead of a big two Saturday, Ashland had a big four, with four of its players tallying double figures in the effort.
“This was an all-around team effort for us, and that’s what you want to see as a coach,” said Ashland coach Bill Bradley.
One of those players was Shelby Gransbery, who helped lead the charge in the second quarter, scoring six points to help give her team the momentum it needed headed into halftime as Ashland cut Logan’s lead to 26-24.
“I think we did a really good job of coming back there in the second quarter,” Gransbery said. “Our shots weren’t really falling, so we knew we needed to focus on our defense because we were having some problems offensively.”
With four steals for Alexis Robinson in the second period, defense did turn out to be the catalyst to turn the tide.
After the Lady Chiefton’s Ashley Frasure and Allison McNeil scored eight apiece in the first quarter, the Ashland defense allowed just two from the duo the following quarter.
Trailing 24-20 with under two minutes to go before halftime, a steal by Robinson led to a lay in for Gransberry, followed up with another steal for Robinson who knotted things up at 24 apiece with a lay in of her own.
Though the momentum had swung Ashland’s way, Logan’s Paige Davis kept her team in front with a nice drive as the buzzer sounded.
After the break, the Kittens’ defense tightened, allowing just seven points with a smothering presence on the defensive end. After relinquishing a one-point lead early in the third, a pair of free throws by Gransberry with 5:44 to go gave her team a 30-29 advantage.
From there, Ashland saw its lead swell to as high as many as 16 in the fourth quarter, icing the victory with a couple of late threes by Mykassa Robinson and Alex Young.
Bradley attributes the turn of the tide in the second half to his team's strong physical shape.
“Our conditioning really was our biggest ally today,” Bradley said. “I thought they got kind of tired in the second half, and we were really able to take advantage of that, forcing a few steals that led to easy baskets for us.”
Gransbery led the way for Ashland (15-5), tallying 16 points. Alexis Robninson and Haley-Sue Foutch each had 13, while Mykassa Robinson rounded out the double figures quartet with 12. Robinson also had four blocks and eight steals.
Logan’s Frasure led all scorers with 20 points, while McNeal and Taylor Myers contributed 10 apiece.
ASHLAND 9 15 18 19 — 61
LOGAN (Ohio) 16 10 7 14 — 47
Ashland (61) — Gransbery 16, A. Robinson 13, Foutch 13, M. Robinson 12, Young 5, Woodson 1, Roberts 1. 3-point FFs: 4 (M. Robinson 2, A. Robinson, Young). FT: 13-24.
Logan (47) — Frasure 20, McNeal 10, Myers 10, Davis 5, Rose 2. 3-point FGs: 3 (Myers 2, Frasure). FT: 4-9.
Lewis Co. 42
The final matchup of the day promised to be a story of the bigs, with Lewis County 6-footer Savannah Anderson squaring off against Fairland 6-footer and recent University of Michigan-signee Terra Stapleton.
Stapleton ended up getting the best of Anderson, as did the Lady Dragons, putting together a monster second half.
In a surprising turn of events, the first half was much less about the talked-about post matchup and more about the guards. Instead of a grind-it-out matchup down low, fans were treated to a run-and-gun pace, with Lewis County jumping out to an early 8-2 lead thanks to two-straight corner threes by Jacey Fite.
The lead didn’t last long as Stapleton came to life late in the period, scoring seven points, including a lay-in before the buzzer sounded, giving Fairland a 13-11 edge.
With four minutes to go in the second quarter, Anderson successfully challenged Stapleton to give Lewis what would be its last lead of the game, 16-15.
Trailing 23-16 with less than 30 seconds to go in the half, Lewis guard Emily Frye kept the game close, knocking down another big three for the Lady Lions, followed up by Anderson continuing to keep Stapleton in check with her fourth block of the half.
Though Stapleton had 12 first-half points, Lewis County coach Jay Fite was pleased with his center’s effort.
“She (Anderson) was able to hold her own against Stapleton, and it was a good challenge for her,” Fite said. “She challenged her when she went strong to the basket and was able to pick up a few blocked shots, and she didn’t make it easy for her. I feel like she held her own against a very good post player.”
The third period is where the wheels fell off for Lewis, as Fairland’s Caitlan Stone lit up the nets in the third period, picking up four threes in the quarter.
Outscoring Lewis County 22-11, the hot third quarter was all the Lady Dragons needed to ensure a victory.
Fairland Coach John Buchannan took pride in his team’s win, but gave credit to Lewis County.
“This was a good win for us, Lewis is a great team,” Buchannan said. “I know that everybody was looking at the matchup down low, but this ended up being a fast-paced game. I was very impressed with the speed of their guards.”
Frye led Lewis County (13-8), picking up 15 points. Anderson was held to six points but managed to pick up 12 rebounds and five blocks.
Stapleton led all scorers with 17 points for Fairland (14-3), to go along with 12 rebounds. Stone scored 16 to go along with 12 rebounds of her own.
LEWIS CO. 11 8 11 12 — 42
FAIRLAND 13 10 22 15 — 60
Lewis County (42) — Frye 15, Fite 9, Pick 6, Anderson 6, Yates 2, Heipenstein 2, Thompson 1, Cortez 1. 3-point FGs: 6 (Fite 3, Frye 2, Pick 1). FT: 6-14.
Fairland (60) — Stapleton 17, Stone 16, J. Fulks 5, C. Fulks 4, Perry 4, Riley 2, Dickess 2. 3-point FGs: 4 (Stone 4). FT: 3-6.
A little persistence can go a long way.
- Local Sports
Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)
The Fleming County Panthers waited nearly an hour to ascend the ladders set up under the goals at Ellis T. Johnson Arena on Tuesday night.
To the victor belongs the spoils, which traditionally includes the nets after winning a tournament title. But Fleming County milled around on Morehead State’s floor taking pictures and soaking in the atmosphere after handling Ashland 82-59 in the 16th Region Tournament final.
Snipping the twine was almost an afterthought. In fact, except for a minute or so of celebration with their student section immediately following the final buzzer, the Panthers didn’t really even seem all that excited.
They expected to be here, and they were all business after earning back-to-back region titles and trips to Rupp Arena.
AARON SNYDER: Truth or Dare unkind to ’Cats
Ashland was left feeling like the shy kid after an intense game of Truth or Dare.
Truth: Fleming County outrebounded Ashland, 39-24, after Ashland outdueled Greenup County by 10 the night before.
'Relaxed' Steward earns MVP award
Both Fleming County coach Mark Starns and stellar senior Troy Steward attributed his significant strides this season to aggressiveness.
Playing a part, too, in Steward earning the 16th Region Tournament Most Valuable Player award was the lack of nerves, which were nearly overwhelming at times a year ago.
Central's 15th Region reign continues
Once was good.
Twice was nice.
Three was sweet for the Johnson Central Eagles.
Senior Slade McPeek scored 22 points and earned most valuable player honors Tuesday night as Johnson Central rolled past Shelby Valley, 81-56, for its third straight 15th Region championship at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
- Fleming goes for two: Panthers beat Ashland for 16th Region repeat Fleming County pulled away early and never looked back as the Panthers pounced on Ashland, winning 82-59 in the 16th Region championship game on Tuesday in Morehead. Fleming County will face Scott County in the Sweet Sixteen next Wednesday at Rupp Arena.
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.”
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)