Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

February 20, 2013

Lewis withstands Raceland late run

RACELAND — Lewis County coach Joe Hampton knew what was coming, he just didn’t know how his team would respond.

Despite being up 16 with seven minutes remaining, the longtime Lions coach knew Raceland would make at least one run at his team.

And run the Rams did, to the tune of 12 straight points in a little over a minute-and-a-half stretch. Lewis County survived, though, to edge Raceland, 71-67 on Tuesday night to move on to the 63rd District Tournament championship game against Russell. The title is up for grabs on Friday at 7 p.m. at Raceland-Worthington High School.

“Postseason basketball is all about runs,” Hampton said. “Basketball is naturally a game of runs, but I think it seems like it is even more so in the postseason.”

Hampton didn’t wait long to see how his team would respond to the Rams’ 12-0 spurt. The Lions rattled off six points in a row of their own.

And for the rest of the night that was how it went. A Raceland run, followed quickly by a Lewis County answer.

“This is just a sign of us growing up from last year to this year,” Hampton said. “Part of the process has been learning how to withstand runs. We haven’t always done it. We have had a few times where we have tucked our tail, but tonight was just another step in that process of growing up.”

Most every time the Lions really needed a basket, they were able to get it from the free-throw line, where they finished 24 of 32 on the night.

“We executed well at the free-throw line,” Hampton said. “We finished at 75 percent, and put them in positions where they had to kill the clock in order to get possessions back.”

Junior point guard Wade Adams was a perfect 6 for 6 from the charity stripe. Hampton said having a point guard who can make free throws in late game situations is a luxury for a coach.

“It means a ton, because the ball is in his hands so much,” he said. “It is huge for a coach to feel confident putting the ball in a player like Wade’s hands.”

While Lewis County (15-13) was continually helping itself at the line, Raceland (11-18) was doing anything but doing itself any favors as the Rams finished just 6 of 14 from the foul stripe.

“We had our chances and the free-throw line hurt us again down the stretch,” Raceland coach Bob Trimble said. “That has been a bugaboo for us this year.”

Much of the Rams’ 28-point fourth quarter was centered around the play of Jacob Blair and Connor Messer.

Blair, who led all scorers with 26 points, did a little bit of everything to keep the Rams in it from knocking down a big three to coming up with three steals in just over a minute.

Messer, who was plagued by foul trouble most of the night, asserted himself in the final quarter, scoring nine of his 14 points in the final stanza.

“We need him on the floor, he is our best rebounder and makes our offense run so much smoother,” Trimble said. “He played really well, when he was finally able to come back in.”

Caleb Pruitt came off the bench for Lewis County to score nine points, which Hampton called the X-factor of the game.

“He was huge,” he said. “He has had some games where he played limited minutes and he has also started games, but tonight we couldn’t afford to take him out. We talk about somebody coming off the bench to be the X-factor and he was that tonight.”

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