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.