Boyd County-Russell: A 75-43 thrashing at the hands of the Lady Lions set the tone for a forgettable 7-12 start for Russell this season.
However, once things started to click and defense began to improve tremendously, Russell overcame that rough patch with a 7-4 finish over its final 11 games.
The Lady Lions’ overall experience on this stage is entirely too powerful.
Boyd Co. 48, Russell 34.
Ashland-East Carter: The Lady Raiders are out to derail the notion that they’re too young to win the big one.
In each of the two meetings this season, East Carter has been decidedly overmatched by the Kittens.
Kristen Mayo and Alexis Robinson are two of the most entertaining point guards to watch.
Ashland 59, East Carter 53.
Ashland-Boyd County: Since Bill Bradley took over at Ashland 12 years ago, here are the numbers between his teams and good friend Pete Fraley’s groups:
Head-to-head: 22-17 Ashland
District titles: 6-4 Ashland
Region titles: 2-1 Boyd County
Even after having to play just one day following a tough battle with East Carter, Ashland gets even with Boyd County in the category that matters most.
Lady Lions duo Taylor Wheeler and Logan Fraley are hard to guard but the Kittens’ defense, led by Allie Slone, Sydney Cullop and Robinson, is often overlooked. They’ll come up with key plays on that end of the floor in the final moments.
Ashland 54, Boyd Co. 52.
The action tips off tonight at 6, with two games today and two more Wednesday. The semifinals will be Thursday, followed by Friday’s final game.
Ashland-West Carter: Kyle Brown goes out with a bang, but Ashland drops his Comets with a boom.
The Tomcats are too long for undersized West Carter.
Ashland 64, West Carter 46.
Fleming County-Lewis County: Regulation ended in strange fashion as Fleming County won in overtime during these teams’ regular-season matchup. The Panthers won’t let this one be nearly as close.
Fleming County 71, Lewis County 44.
Russell-Boyd County: Can we play best-out-of-three in this matchup? These 20-win teams deserve it. I knew we could count on this year giving us a couple unbelievable first-round pairings, and this should be a thriller.
Throwing all the intriguing subplots aside, a game like this typically comes down to factors such as turnovers and free throws. Russell gets the slight edge in both categories because of senior leadership across the board and the possession of two of the better foul shooters (Kyle Skaggs and Jacob Porter) in the area.
Russell 65, Boyd Co. 61.
Rowan County-Morgan County: Rowan County, albeit a team with a much different look, is going for its third consecutive region crown. Meanwhile, Morgan County graces the Ellis T. Johnson Arena floor for the first time in eight years.
Both teams have big post players — Rowan County’s tallest is 6-foot-11 (Matt Brown) while Morgan County has 6-8 Aleksander Malinic. Both figure to play zone defense. It will be a low-scoring, tight affair.
Rowan County 49,
Morgan County 45.