After a season-ending knee injury, Boyd County fans thought they would never see Brandon Lowe’s jersey again. But the No. 30 made an unexpected appearance again on Tuesday night.
Wearing his buddy’s jersey, Austin Hunt scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as Boyd County defeated Greenup County 69-52 on Tuesday night at Boyd County Middle School.
After a bloody nose forced him into the locker room for a jersey change, it was best friend Lowe’s idea that Hunt put on the jersey.
“There wasn’t any other jersey I was going to put on,” Hunt said “He’s my best friend and we have to step up our roles for him and we have to keep this thing going.”
That thing is a five-game winning streak since Lowe went out on Jan. 14 against Rowan County.
But Lowe has brought new energy to the team, and maybe a little “coaching expertise” to Boyd County coach Randy Anderson’s staff.
“(Lowe) is 5-0 as an assistant coach and he lets me know that,” Anderson said. “It was almost like a wake-up call ... who’s going to fill that hole he left? I think collectively you can just tell.”
Boyd County started the game off hot, hitting 3-pointers on three straight possessions. But the 3-point line dried up for the Lions — after hitting six in the first half, they hit only three in the second.
That’s where Hunt’s 10-point fourth quarter came into play, with every point coming from inside or from free-throw line. The senior finished with a game-high 21 points.
Anderson said after trying to force up outside shots, Hunt is starting to not only become more patient, but use his physical abilities more to his advantage.
“He’s progressed this whole year by not settling for the first thing he sees,” Anderson said. “If stays aggressive with his ball skills and his physical size, he has an advantage. He’s also got to a point where he’s a real good free throw shooter too and that’s the key.”
With Hunt in the locker room in the third quarter, Greenup County made a run to bring the score to 48-41.
After hearing the score, Hunt said he was angry about not being out there.
“I’m upset whenever I’m taken out for reasons I can’t control,” Hunt said. “I stopped the bleeding as soon as I could, and got back out there and used the anger towards being more aggressive.”
Grayson Griffith finished the game with 13 points while Tristan Burgess added 12 points for the Lions, who shot 50 percent from the floor.
Boyd County was in a physical ball game for three quarter, though, as Greenup County used its height and hustle to hang with the Lions.
At one point, the Musketeers lowered the deficit to just six points late in the third quarter, but that was the closest they got.
“I thought we played tremendous through three quarters,” said Greenup County coach Harold Tackett. “But that’s why you play four quarters. I don’t know if fatigue set in during the fourth quarter, but we got caught standing around on defense a lot and we missed a lot easy shots.”
Greenup County had a lot of attempts at some easy putbacks, grabbing 21 offensive rebounds, but the Musketeers finished with just six second-chance points.
Tackett was quick to point out his team had 13 easy layups off rebounds, but missed every chance.
“That’s 26 points we left out there on the court,” he said. “It’s just experience and just rushing the shot and getting too excited. We’re young and we’re just not used to playing with confidence around the rim.”
Junior Brandon Johnson led the team with a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds. Jair Jackson added 14 points while Justin Bond was the team’s leading scorer with 19.
And while Greenup County’s (2-15) record might not show it, Tackett is adamant on the fact that his team is getting better.
“I’m really and truly happy with my kids,” Tackett said. “I’ve got a hard-working group of kids. But we need to find our identity and we’re getting there.”
With the win, Boyd County (15-9) will have its first winning season since 2006-07
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2658.