Boyd County junior Connor Gauze saw his most extensive playing time yet on Friday night.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder took full advantage, posting a career-high 20 points to go with eight rebounds and some nice defensive work as the Lions turned back Fairview 75-67 at George Cooke Memorial Gym.
Gauze, who has a nice shooting touch, connected on 8-of-10 shots from the field to lead four Boyd County players in double figures.
“That’s a first,” Gauze said with a smile when informed of his 20-point night. “I felt good. We’ve been working hard in practice and watched film. Coach (Randy Anderson) had us prepared.”
Gauze entered in the latter part of the first quarter to supply two baskets and became a fixture in the lineup the rest of the way.
“This was one of those games where we needed him a whole lot of minutes,” Anderson said, “and he produced. We needed his size inside. (Antwan) Washington was getting so much penetration from the point. Conner stepped up and took two or three charges.”
Boyd County scored the game’s first 10 points and led by as much as 15 points in the second quarter and 17 down the stretch. But Fairview, despite an eight-game losing streak, showed plenty of fight and repeatedly made runs to stay in the game.
The Eagles’ gritty effort left coach Derek Cooksey nodding his head approvingly.
“We got down 10-0,” Cooksey said. “It would have been easy to quit, roll over and let them beat us to death. But I looked in the eyes of our kids and saw a positive sign.”
Fred Hightower had two putbacks in a 9-1 spurt that sliced Fairview’s led to 33-26 late in the second quarter. On the final possession of the half, Gauze bobbled a pass on the perimeter but found the handle and hit a shot from just inside the 3-point line at the buzzer.
“That was big,” Cooksey said. “We had a lot of momentum going to the locker room if he doesn’t make that.”
Fairview hit its first three floor shots of the third quarter, capped by Hightower’s 3-pointer to cut it to 37-33.
Boyd County (7-7) had the answer, however, with eight consecutive points to stretch the lead back out. Jonah Black converted a three-point play, Grayson Griffith followed with a 3-ball and Bobby Anderson glided to the basket for a layup.
Griffith finished with 15 points and a season-high 12 rebounds for the Lions. Anderson scored 13 and Black 10.
Gauze had seven points in the third quarter, helping Boyd County take a 17-point lead into the final period.
“We’ve got really good guards,” Gauze said. “I know if I’m open, I know they are going to get me the ball.”
Said Anderson: “Conner is a humble kid with good hands and good feet. His post moves continue to come.”
Washington and Andrew Carroll each tossed in 23 points to carry Fairview’s offense.