Boyd County’s boys had the locker room dance party rocking Tuesday night after securing a spot in next week’s 16th Region Tournament.
Seniors Austin Hunt and Brandon Taylor combined for 47 points and 19 rebounds to spark the Lions past Fairview, 69-59, in the opening round of the 64th District Tournament at Boyd County Middle School.
The Lions, looking for their first district championship since 1999, will host Ashland in the title game Friday night at 7.
Top-seeded Ashland made quick work of Rose Hill Christian in the tournament opener, 83-25.
Boyd County had the much tougher assignment and turned away two Fairview comebacks in the second half of a hard-fought contest.
“It’s huge, really huge,” said Hunt, who poured in a season-high 30 points on 11-for-14 shooting from the field. “This was the first step to what we really want. I think we are good enough to win the district championship and compete for the region.”
Hunt, playing his first season at Boyd County, spoke after ducking out of a loud celebration that included flashing lights.
“It’s something we like to do after every win,” he said. “We turn the lights off, and the neon lights and music come on,” on. It’s just a lot of fun. This team has a great bond with each other. I wouldn’t want to be chasing a region title with anyone else.”
Boyd County improved to 21-10 by winning for the 11th time in the last 12 games.
Hunt and Taylor shouldered the load to keep the Lions’ season afloat.
They accounted for 11 points in a 15-0 run to start the second quarter, enabling Boyd County to open a 17-point advantage.
Fairview, led by sophomore Isaiah King’s 29 points, twice pulled within 10 in the second half, but each time the Lions had an answer. In the third quarter, Hunt cut across the lane to hit a jumper and then drove the length of the floor for a layup as Boyd County reeled off eight consecutive points.
After Fairview closed it to 60-50 in the fourth quarter, Taylor countered with a putback. His layup and another Hunt drive from baseline to baseline helped seal the victory.
“Brandon Taylor is awesome,” Hunt said. “He’s always in the right spot at the right time. Brandon is really athletic for a big guy.”
Taylor finished with 17 points and a dozen rebounds.
“B.T. and Austin were men out there,” Boyd County coach Randy Anderson said. “They controlled the paint on both ends.”
Overall, the Lions shot 55 percent from the field while holding Fairview to 39 percent.
“These guys are unbelievably close,” Anderson said. “They go to Gatti Land before every game. If one goes to the movie, they all go to the movie. They played hard and played together tonight against a really dangerous Fairview team.”
The Eagles ended the season at 12-14.
“We did some things well, but just couldn’t get over that 10-point hump,” Fairview coach Derek Cooksey said. “Hunt is great at getting into the lane. He didn’t settle for jump shots. He’s an exceptional athlete and was not going to let his team lose. That’s what seniors do.”
Rose Hill 25
After beating Rose Hill by 65 and 55 during the regular season, Ashland overwhelmed the Royals at the start with defensive pressure and layups that created a 32-3 cushion.
The Tomcats came up with 15 turnovers in the first quarter and romped to their 21st win of the season.
“That was the plan,” coach Buddy Biggs said. “We didn’t want any letdown, any slippage. I thought the kids really did a nice job of staying focused.”
Sophomore forward Nick Miller scored all 15 of his points the first quarter without missing a shot to lead the Tomcats, whose starters and top subs did not play at all in the second half.
Freshman Damantie Thornton took advantage of his extended minutes to put in 12 points. All 14 Ashland players got into the scoring column.
“That’s the other thing, we passed the ball well and got some easy baskets,” Biggs said.
The Tomcats racked up 52 points off Rose Hill’s 36 turnovers.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.