Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 11, 2013

Strong PG play boosts Ashland

Rocky Stanley
The Independent

HUNTINGTON, W. VA. — With two ball handlers sidelined due to injury and illness, Ashland needed an iron-man effort from junior point guard Ross Thompson on Thursday night.

The Tomcats got that and more.

Thompson played 30 minutes and ignited a 10-0 run in the second half as Ashland turned away Spring Valley 66-51 in the latest of many tight battles in their series.

The Timberwolves closed to within one point in the final minute of the third quarter, but Thompson started the Tomcats’ decisive surge by hitting a 3-pointer and then converting a three-point play to create some breathing room.

After the game, he gave assistant coach Scott Floyd an assist.

“Wednesday before practice coach Floyd worked with me on my shot,” said Thompson, who made two 3-pointers on the night.

The 5-foot-10 guard added some muscle during the offseason and it helped him absorb a foul while making a layup with 18 seconds left in the third period.

“He got me pretty good,” Thompson said. “I lifted a lot before this season and it’s paying off, I think.”

He finished with 12 points, seven assists, three steals, two rebounds and only one turnover as the Tomcats went to 2-0 in a busy week that includes four games in five days.

“Ross really played well,” Ashland coach Buddy Biggs said. “The only other guys with any experience at point guard, Logan (Salow) and Braxton (Harshaw), were out with an injury and pink eye. Ross had to play a lot of minutes. He gutted it out and played a smart game.”

Thompson had plenty of help from his teammates.

Sophomore post player Dikembe Dixson supplied 21 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double in three nights, despite sitting out part of the third quarter with foul trouble.

Junior forward Steven Friley also made his presence felt around the basket with 15 points and seven rebounds. He limped off the court with a leg injury in the third quarter but returned to help the Tomcats down the stretch.

“Steven is a gutsy competitor,” Biggs said. “He wants to be in there, even though he wasn’t 100 percent.”  

After Thompson’s six consecutive points, Dixson returned from the bench to start the fourth quarter. He made the next two baskets to expand Ashland’s lead to 11 points.

Spring Valley, trying to end a six-game losing streak, rallied to within 59-56 on Greg Herbert’s trey with just over two minutes remaining.

Dixson missed a shot at the other end, but grabbed the rebound and was fouled making the putback. He sank the free throw for a six-point margin and a young Spring Valley squad couldn’t get closer than five the rest of the way.

“(Dixson) is a tough matchup,” Timberwolves coach Cory Maynard said. “He’s going to be a tough matchup for anybody with his athleticism. His elbows are up around the rim.”

Ashland (11-5) won despite a shaky night at the foul line, converting only 10 of 25 attempts. Meanwhile, Spring Valley (2-7) got to the line only six times, making two.

“Spring Valley shot well from the field and hung around,” Thompson said. “They are better than the losing streak they have been on.”

Jacob Kilgore had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves. Austin Keyser was next with 15 points.

Ashland plays host to Mason County tonight and travels to Tug Valley (W.Va.) on Saturday.

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.

ASHLAND    FG    FT    REB    TP

Friley    7-10    1-4    7    15

Thompson    3-8    4-8    2    12

Dixson    9-17    3-5    10    21

Miller    3-7    0-0    2    7

Hart    2-9    2-6    6    7

Stewart    2-6    0-2    0    4

Wesley    0-2    0-0    2    0

Rose    0-0    0-0    0    0

Team            2

TOTALS    26-59    10-25    31    66

FG Pct.: 44.1. FT Pct.: 40.0. 3-point FGs: 4-18 (Thompson 2-5, Hart 1-5, Miller 1-3, Stewart 0-3, Friley 0-1, Wesley 0-1). PF: 10. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 9.

S. VALLEY    FG    FT    REB    TP

Robertson    3-5    0-0    2    8

Steele    2-5    0-0    3    4

Keyser    7-12    0-0    2    15

Kilgore    8-17    0-0    12    19

Meade    2-5    0-4    9    4

Herbert    4-12    2-2    5    11

Adkins    0-2    0-0    0    0

Hinchman    0-0    0-0    0    0

Team            2

TOTALS    26-58    2-6    35    61

FG Pct.: 44.8. FT Pct.: 33.3. 3-point FGs: 7-18 (Robertson 2-3, Keyser 1-3, Kilgore 3-6, Herbert 1-4, Steele 0-2). PF: 19. Fouled out: Steele, Keyser. Turnovers: 13.

ASHLAND    17    16    18    15    —    66

S. VALLEY    14    17    13    17    —    61