One saw very little of the court a year ago at this time, and the other wasn't even on the team.
But when Ashland desperately needed to ratchet up its defense to tame the streaking Panthers of Fleming County, Mykasa Robinson and Chelsea Woodson proved to be suited for the task.
The Kittens stymied Fleming County in the second half, allowing only four field goals and 11 total points over the final 16 minutes en route to a 57-39 win in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals at Morehead State's Ellis T. Johnson Arena on Thursday.
Ashland punched a ticket into the region championship game for the fourth consecutive season. The two-time defending champions face East Carter tonight at 7.
"We said from Day 1 that if we win it, defense is going to be what does it," said Ashland coach Bill Bradley. "They really took that to heart in the second half."
After fighting from nine points down to trim the margin to 31-28 by halftime, Fleming County's shooting aim went arctic. The Panthers were 4-for-19 as they saw the game steadily slip away.
"We just couldn't get (shots) to fall," said Panthers coach Kristy Orem. "Their shots were falling, and when they got a 10-point lead, we couldn't play our zone because they were just going to stay out there and play with (the ball) all day."
Haley-Sue Foutch was again the high scorer for Ashland. The junior notched 18 points and 11 rebounds to follow up a 17-point effort against Lewis County. Nine of Thursday's points came in the initial 5:30 of the contest.
Eighth-grader Mykasa showed off more of the Robinson family talent — her sister is junior point guard Alexis — with a career-high 16 points.
Orem, though, described a Woodson 3-pointer from the left corner as a turning point midway through the third period. The triple put Ashland ahead 38-30 with 3:56 left in the quarter.
"When she hit that 3, I think it was kind of a dagger and it put us in a bad position," said Orem, who has guided Fleming County to at least 20 wins in three of the last four seasons.
Said Woodson: "I was feeling good then because I haven't hit a shot like that all year."
Woodson joined Ashland in November after transferring from Fairview. She went there from Huntington.
The junior said she has increased her speed on defense, which allowed her to team up with Mykasa in the front of a highly effective 2-3 zone defense.
"They were working out there, talking," Bradley said of the duo. "They really contained (freshman Journey) Steward in the second half. She's their motor. We shut their motor off."
Steward misfired on all five of her second-half floor attempts. She managed 10 points, all in the first half.
Cristi Petersen, Fleming County's lone senior, netted a team-best 14 points. Forward Martina Lytle added 11 points and five rebounds.
Although they never led, the Panthers (20-11) closed the gap to 31-30 early in the third.
That's when Mykasa Robinson's dazzling move in the paint faked out a Fleming County defender and resulted in a nifty pair.
"Four games ago, she had nine points in the fourth quarter against East Carter," Bradley said of his blossoming guard. "Her confidence has almost exploded since then."
Mykasa Robinson canned a couple of downtown bombs, including a fall-away trey as time expired, to help the Kittens surge to a 24-16 lead at first quarter's close.
She seemed to be just as proud of her defense.
"We were slacking (in the first half) to get back on their offense, so we decided to pick up on our defense," she said. "We worked a lot harder because we knew our back line had a lot to do."
Alexis Robinson, who took just one second-half shot, chipped in 10 points, five rebounds and four assists. She and Mykasa each played all 32 minutes.
Shelby Gransbery added eight rebounds and two blocks.
Foutch put the capper on a decisive 9-0 third-quarter run with a bucket. Ashland held a 40-30 advantage then, and never let the Panthers within nine for the remainder of the game.
Tickets for both tonight's title game and Saturday's boys first-round game between Ashland and East Carter will be on sale at Ashland Blazer High School beginning at 9 a.m. today.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.
FLEMING CO. FG FT REB TP Petersen 6-18 2-4 4 14 Boyd 0-3 0-0 2 0 Steward 4-12 0-2 3 10 Lytle 5-9 1-2 5 11 Jett 0-1 2-4 3 2 Pfeffer 0-1 2-2 5 2 Fearin 0-0 0-0 1 0 McIntyre 0-0 0-0 0 0 Jackson 0-0 0-0 0 0 Fern 0-0 0-0 0 0 Hardyman 0-0 0-0 0 0 Burrell 0-0 0-0 0 0 Team 7 TOTALS 15-44 7-14 30 39 FG Pct.: 34.1. FT Pct.: 50.0. 3-Pt. FG: 2-8 (Steward 2-4, Boyd 0-2, Petersen 0-2). PF: 15. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 9. ASHLAND FG FT REB TP Foutch 8-11 2-6 11 18 Gransbery 1-6 2-2 8 4 Young 0-0 0-0 3 0 M. Robinson 6-12 2-2 1 16 A. Robinson 4-10 2-4 5 10 Roberts 0-0 0-0 0 0 Woodson 4-6 0-0 2 9 Team 2 TOTALS 23-45 8-14 32 57 FG Pct.: 51.1. FT Pct.: 57.1. 3-Pt. FG: 3-8 (M. Robinson 2-4, Woodson 1-2, A. Robinson 0-1, Foutch 0-1). PF: 16. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 11. FLEMING 16 12 4 7 — 39 ASHLAND 24 7 11 15 — 57 Officials: Derrick Wright, Steve Keene, Jordan Hall.