Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

February 22, 2012

Cundiff seals Comets’ win over tourney host Elliott

SANDY HOOK — West Carter senior guard Kyle Cundiff held off Elliott County in Tuesday’s 62nd District tournament game 15 feet at a time.

The Comets eliminated the Lions, 58-54, on Elliott County’s floor behind 17 points from junior Kyle Brown, another 13 from senior Cody Stamper and senior Derek Lawson’s 12. Cundiff finished with 10 points, but his 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the final minute kept his team ahead.

“We’ve had a couple situations like that,” Cundiff said.

Indeed, West survived at the free throw line 15 feet from the goal – the Comets made 17-of-24, while Elliott County was 4-for-5.

In fact, if you take away the free throws, Elliott County would be playing East Carter or Morgan County (the Raiders and Cougars tip off at 7 p.m. tonight) in Friday’s finals. The Lions outpointed the Cougars from the field, 50-41.

West coach Jeremy Webb praised Elliott County’s game plan.

“We came out early on and really didn’t get into the flow of the game,” Webb said. “We missed a few easy shots the first couple minutes of the game and let those guys kind of hang around a little bit.”

Elliott County coach Greg Adkins said his team was young, and the Lions were – just two seniors on the roster.

“I thought we did a lot of things well,” Adkins said. “... I can’t say enough good things about (senior guard) Danny Fraley. Derek Lawson’s a tall task for anybody, but he battled with him for 32 minutes. That’s where our opportunity started at.”

Lawson gave the Comets a 6-3 lead a little more than four minutes in, but Elliott County (9-20) countered with a 9-4 run the rest of the way.

It was more accurate to say sophomore guard Logan Nickell – who played with the flu but led all scorers with 20 points – put the Lions ahead. After Fraley’s bucket made it 6-5, Nickell scored the final five points in a little less than three mintues, including a layup and a 3-pointer from the left wing.

West (24-6) took its only other first-half lead – 13-12 – to open the second quarter thanks to Brown’s 10-foot jumper and Cundiff’s free throw. The Comets didn’t score again for nearly three minutes.

Elliott County, meanwhile, largely solved West’s 2-3 zone defense and made shots seemingly from everywhere. Fraley (14 points) canned a pair of threes – including one that looked wide right but banked in – and junior Jesse Flanery (12 points) and eighth-grader Landon Griffith each drained one from over 20 feet away.

The result: Elliott County took a 28-16 lead.

“(Elliott County has) very good shooting ability,” Webb said. “That’s one of the things that concerned us.”

West began its comeback late in the second by scoring the last six points – Brown had four, and Stamper added the other two. The Comets continued in the third stanza by outscoring the Lions, 14-9, while Elliott County had nary a point for nearly four minutes.

West senior Caleb Whitt’s two free throws with 2:13 to go broke a 46-46 tie. “It kind of relaxed the entire team,” Webb said.

Flanery’s three with 6.4 seconds left in the game made it 56-54 Comets, but Brown secured the win with two free throws a second later.

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