Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

March 8, 2014

Boys 16th Region: Gotta be Lion! (with photos, video)

Lewis holds off late-charging Boyd, moves into semis

MOREHEAD — As a scoring drought settled on Boyd County Saturday, Lewis County took advantage and then survived a frantic fourth quarter in the opening round of the 16th Region Tournament on Saturday. Lewis County won 71-66 at Morehead State’s Ellis T. Johnson arena.

After the game had been tightly contested throughout, a span of about four and a half minutes in the third quarter was all Lewis County (17-13) needed to build a lead it would spend the fourth trying desperately to defend as the game drew to a close.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Lewis County coach Joe Hampton said. “It was just too good to be true. Our kids attacked the basket very well in the third quarter but then I think they got a little bit timid.”

A 16-point lead was cut all the way to as few as three on three occasions in the final two minutes. An offensive rebound and score by Boyd County’s Conner Gauze made the score 69-66 in favor of Lewis County with just 40 seconds left.

Boyd County’s pressure defense then forced a 10-second violation but Reid Rowsey missed on a driving attempt and Lewis County’s Jake Parker got the rebound. He was fouled and knocked down two free throws with just seven seconds left, setting the final score.

“Free throws have been very good for us all year,” Hampton said. “We didn’t do a great job of finishing them at the end but I’m very proud of Jake Parker for hitting those two to ice it for us. He hasn’t played a lot but he showed a lot of poise and hit two crucial shots.”

In the third quarter, Boyd County (19-14) had pulled within three points on Tristan Burgess’ second 3-pointer, making the score 41-38, Lewis County, with 4:35 left.

But from there, Boyd County missed nine consecutive shots and Lewis County put together a 13-0 run to lead 54-38 heading to the fourth.

“To only be down five (at halftime), I thought we were in good position,” Boyd County coach Randy Anderson said. “We probably missed five point-blank layups in the third quarter. Add 10 points to that score and we’re talking in a different light.”

Boyd County racked up 28 points in the fourth quarter, keyed primarily by its ability to finally get its pressure defense established thanks to shots starting to fall. All together, the pressure was a factor in Lewis County committing five turnovers in the fourth.

“That’s what we were banking on,” Anderson said. “When we got going defensively in the fourth quarter, our offense was great.”

Gauze scored 10 of Boyd County’s first 15 points of the fourth on his way to a team-high 18. Bobby Anderson then got the hot hand and scored the team’s next nine, including a 3-pointer. The sophomore’s pair of free throws with 2:24 left had Boyd County within three points at 65-62. He scored two more in the quarter and finished with 15 points.

Burgess, Grayson Griffith and Jonah Black, all starters, are three of five Boyd County seniors.

“This is an awesome senior group,” Anderson said. “They know the locker room is theirs and they’ve done a tremendous job. You can’t replace it, you just try to move someone else in there that does it just like that.”

Lewis County placed all five starters in double figures, led by Sammy Holder’s game-high 19. The senior guard racked up 11 points in the third quarter as his team built its lead going into the fourth.

Lewis County advances to the semifinals for the second time since 2011 and Fleming County awaits on Monday at 6:30 p.m. The Lions beat the Panthers on their home floor in overtime on Feb. 10. Hampton knows that weighs heavily in the Panthers’ minds.

“They will be very ready for us since we beat them last time,” Hampton said. “They’re going to be eager to try to get payback. But we advanced and we get to play them. I know a lot of people would trade that opportunity with us so we’ll lace them up and see what happens.”

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