By MATT FULTZ
For The Independent
Age doesn’t matter, because effort is everything according to Boyd County coach Randy Anderson. From seniors all the way down to freshmen, Anderson said he knows exactly what to expect every night.
Boyd County used that effort to emerge from a close contest to put away Raceland, 64-55, on Tuesday at Raceland-Worthington High School.
“We feel very confident about every kid that we put in that they can make plays,” he said. “I have seen a lot of them grow up this year, as far as you just put them in and you know they are going to come up with the effort stuff.”
“Stuff” can have many definitions, but on Tuesday night it was a Tristan Burgess offensive rebound and putback that summed it up quite well.
The lanky left-hander wiggled his slender body in between two Raceland players where he grabbed the ball and quickly laid it in.
Burgess’ bucket, along with the preceding Todd Stacy layup, swiftly turned a six-point Boyd County lead into a double-digit lead.
The Lions (18-10) maintained a relatively comfortable margin the remainder of the game to come away with a victory.
“That was a huge play.” Raceland coach Bob Trimble said. “It was a big, big play because it was such a momentum swing.”
Raceland (11-16) had been on a 9-1 run before the two quick Boyd County baskets.
Ironically enough, it was the Rams’ own offensive rebound off of a missed free throw that directly led to the final four points of the run.
But, unfortunately for the Rams, they had entirely too many chances to rebound their own missed shots from the free-throw line. They finished just 6 of 18 at the charity stripe.
“You are not going to win many games going six of 18 from the free-throw line,” Trimble said. “Six of 18 in a nine-point game.”
The Rams did their best to make it close down the stretch despite the free throw woes, but a stretch of three consecutive turnovers midway through the fourth quarter put any serious comeback thought to bed.
In the first half, the Lions were able to build an 11-point advantage thanks in large part to Austin Hunt.
The senior scored 19 of his game-high 23 points before the intermission. Using his size and athletic ability, Hunt powered the smaller Raceland defenders into the paint, where he rose for relatively uncontested six- to eight-footers.
“He is just very athletic,” Anderson said of Hunt, who also recorded 10 rebounds. “He got himself to the pocket in the lane, and was able to get up above them. Six- or eight-footers we will take all night.”
Hunt tallied 14 points in the second quarter, a stanza in which the Lions outscored the Rams 21-10.
When Raceland’s offense was clicking on all cylinders, especially in the first and third quarters, it was also because the ball was getting into the paint.
While Jacob Blair wasn’t pulling up for jumpers like Hunt, he was equally effective in setting up scoring opportunities for his teammates with his passes.
“Jacob is really good in the middle of the floor with the ball,” Trimble said. “He gets in there and takes that jump stop and gets low to the ground. He can score from there and he is a good decision maker.”
Connor Messer found himself on the receiving end of several assists from Blair. The sophomore patrolled the baseline all night and used his own athletic ability to finish around the basket.
Messer led all Ram scorers with 20 points.
Grayson Griffith also reached double figures for Boyd County, scoring 15 points.