By AARON SNYDER
Austin Hunt couldn’t just lay it in. That wouldn’t have been proper punctuation.
Scurrying free on a breakaway after a steal, the Boyd County senior rose up and slammed the basketball with two hands. He eyed the Lions’ student section, which broke into a chant, “This is our house!” inside Ashland’s Anderson Gym on Friday night. The fourth-quarter dunk helped seal an 85-73 defeat of the Tomcats, snapping a 10-game losing streak within the rivalry series.
“It put an exclamation on what we did,” Hunt said. “That was for B-Lowe.”
B-Lowe is Brandon Lowe, a Boyd County senior who learned this week that he will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee. He just recently scored his 1,000th career point.
“It’s always tough when you lose one of your best players, if not your best player, to an injury towards the end of the year,” Hunt said. “He’s my best friend. I hate it, but that one was for him. We rode the emotion, and we got it done.”
Four Lions cracked into double figures in points on a sizzling shooting night — Todd Stacy led the crew with 19, while Hunt added 16, Brandon Taylor netted 14 and Grayson Griffith chipped in 14.
Overall, Boyd County (12-9) went 30 of 55 from the floor. That included a furious flurry of 3-point bombs in the second quarter.
Leading 27-18, the Lions ripped away rapidly. It was rapid-fire for Stacy, as he hit a left-wing three, Griffith, who nailed back-to-back from deep, and Hunt, who smoked the nets with a pair from way downtown, close to NBA range. Boyd County made a total of nine 3-pointers.
“It’s weird, I’ve always felt more comfortable farther back,” Hunt said.
A 22-7 surge boosted Boyd County to a 49-25 halftime advantage.
Boyd County coach Randy Anderson attributed the superb half to an exceptional all-around effort.
“We did a great job of scrambling and helping on the defensive end tonight,” said Boyd County coach Randy Anderson. “On the offensive end, we’ve got quite a few skilled athletes that can run. That’s Ashland’s forte — that’s why they’ve been so good for so long. They get space on you, then when you go to chase them, they’re good enough skill-wise to drive it. We kind of mirrored that tonight.”
The large halftime deficit sank Ashland (12-8) into unwanted, yet familiar, territory. The Tomcats trailed by 23 after a half to Mason County just a week prior — in that one, they rallied all the way back to lose by just six.
On Friday, the Tomcats managed to make a charge in the second half.
“We knew they would foul us, push us, play hard and shoot 3s,” Anderson said. “That’s what they’re known for. We got a full dose of that for 16 minutes.”
Dikembe Dixson dropped in 15 of his game-high 25 points during the second half. Logan Salow scored 11 of his 16 points in the third quarter. The senior was just in his second game back after sitting out with a concussion. In all, he’s missed nine games due to two injuries.
Ashland coach Buddy Biggs was happy his team didn’t quit, but he would like to see a more complete performance.
“We have to learn that it’s a 32-minute game,” Biggs said. “It’s a sign of a young, immature basketball team.
“We played an exceptional second half, and a horrendous first half,” he added. “But Boyd County did a nice job. They just outhustled us in the first half.”
Ashland cut the margin as close as 10, at 77-67. Following three ensuing points by Boyd County, a bucket by Ashland’s Nick Miller made it 80-69. Hunt’s dunk answered that basket with 43 seconds to go.
“We’ve been on a cold streak as a team,” Hunt said. “This was a good game to get our confidence back up.”
Taylor added 11 rebounds, seven of which came in the first quarter, to his aforementioned point total. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior’s minutes are increasing with the absence of Lowe (6-4, 255).
“I’m not going to say I can replace B-Lowe because nobody can replace him,” Taylor said. “We knew we would all have to step up our game with him out.”
Before Friday, Boyd County’s last win over Ashland came in January 2008.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.