Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

January 5, 2013

Fleming pressure leads to victory over Rowan

MOREHEAD — Last month, Rowan County and Fleming County played to an 81-76 double-overtime Panther win.

Troy Steward and the rest of the Panthers made sure this one would not be that close.  

Steward poured in 26 points, tallied six rebounds and had five assists as Fleming County defeated Rowan County, 80-61, at Warren Cooper Gymnasium on Friday night in a 61st District showdown.

The Panthers (10-2) created all kinds of trouble for Rowan County (8-7), forcing 17 turnovers — 13 in the first half — en route to the victory.

“That’s what we’ve been working on,” Panthers coach Mark Starns said. “We’ve worked on that pressure defense like Louisville plays and tonight I thought our pressure defense wore them out.”

Rowan County had a 19-16 advantage after the first quarter but the Fleming County pressure forced a lot of bad decisions that led to 20 points off turnovers.

“They administer better pressure than anybody we’ve seen at this point,” Vikings coach Shawn Thacker said. “Until you’ve been through it and seen it, kids will start to (turn it over) and we’ll get better.”

In the second half, the Panthers used a 16-4 run out of the gate to take a 51-36 lead. Rowan County started chipping away, getting it to within five points, at 57-52 in the fourth quarter. But Fleming County stuck to its game plan and applied more pressure to seal the victory.

“They played hard,” Starns said. “We had that 15-point lead, and Coach (Thacker) really got on them. (They) got it within five and then we put a little more separation between them. It was just a hard-fought district game.”

In addition to Steward’s 26, Fleming had three other players in double figures. Darion Burns had 17 points, Austin Crisp had 14 and Brady Saunders 12.  Fleming shot 49 percent from the field and outrebounded Rowan County 36-35.

“We’ve got to get our games to where we can play at a high level,” Thacker said. “We’ve got to calm down and have some leadership to do that and we didn’t have that tonight.”

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