Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

January 11, 2013

Russell looks elsewhere

With Skaggs off-target, others fill scoring void against Raceland

RUSSELL — It is not often that a coach gets an opportunity to give the state’s leading scorer a hard time about being unable to put the ball in the basket.

So when it happened Thursday night, Russell coach Merle Kidwell wasn’t about to miss his chance.  

“Kyle kind of proved that he is human tonight,” Kidwell said. “When he came to the bench at the end of the third quarter, I said ‘Nice basket, glad you could score tonight.’ At first he just looked at me, but then he chuckled. Kyle is just all about winning.”

And despite just six points from Skaggs, the Red Devils defeated 63rd District rival Raceland, 61-37, on Thursday at Marvin Meredith Gymnasium.

Skaggs, who entered the game averaging just over 27 points per contest, wasn’t the only Red Devil who struggled to score early. Russell missed its first nine shots from the field.

“I didn’t know how many we missed, because I couldn’t count them all,” Kidwell said. “This was the exact opposite of the East Carter game, when we made our first nine.”

The lid finally started to come off the basket for the Red Devils at the beginning of the second quarter, courtesy of their defense.

Jacob Porter’s two steals near midcourt both led to easy baskets, helping the offense get on track. After starting the game 3 of 24, Russell went 9 for 13 in the second eight minutes. The spurt led to a 10-point halftime advantage at 27-17.

“Jacob guarded (Lewis County’s Brett) Ruckel last game and Zack Kelly tonight. He has really taken defense to heart,” Kidwell said. “And he is still able to contribute offensively.”

Porter finished with 15 points, eleven of which came in the first half.

Raceland coach Bob Trimble said it was Red Devils’ early second quarter defense that changed the game.

“They started double-teaming the ball, and we did not respond well to that,” he said. “We did not make the extra pass to get the really easy shot but, shoot, give them some credit. They are really good.”

Russell (14-4) is very good when it gets the kind of play it received from Johnny McGuire and Ross Lane off the bench.

McGuire scored a game-high 18 points on 8 of 10 shooting, including a nice one-handed jam on a fast break.

“In the second half, Johnny probably had the best game of his career,” Kidwell said. “He has kind of been up and down this year. But tonight is what we think he can do. He can run the floor; he got a big dunk.”

The 6-foot-4 junior also utilized a nice left-handed baby hook shot effectively around the basket.

“A lot of people think he is left-handed, because he goes that way so much. We have been working with him to try and get him to go the other way too,” Kidwell said.

Lane provided seven points in some of his most extensive playing time of the season.

“Ross gave us a big lift in the first half, with five off of the bench,” Kidwell said.

In the second half, the Red Devils kept scoring while the Rams continued to struggle, without Connor Messer and Chase Waddell, who were both ill.

“Without Connor on the floor our inside game is not near as strong, and we like to play inside out,” Trimble said. “They did a good job guarding Zack, but we missed him several times when he was wide open and when he is open he usually knocks it down.”

Raceland (6-8) did a good job of limiting Skaggs open looks at the rim, holding him to just 2 of 12 from the field. His first basket was a layup with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third period. He later hit a 3-pointer.

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