Ashland’s defensive experiment isn’t exactly rocket science, but opposing teams have yet to solve the equation.
The Tomcats remained effective in a newly implemented zone defense in a 63-50 Senior Night victory over West Carter on Tuesday night at Anderson Gym.
Offensive highlights were also aplenty, as Dikembe Dixson notched a season-high 30 points and Logan Salow racked up a career-best 12 assists.
Ashland will take an eight-game winning string into Friday’s rivalry matchup at Russell.
“So far, so good,” said Tomcats coach Buddy Biggs of his team’s zone. “We had to make a change because we were averaging 70 points a game but had lost eight out of 13. It was like, OK, something’s wrong. So we had to put our heads together. So far it’s worked out.”
Ashland’s length — Dixson, Nick Miller, Steven Friley and Zach Hart are all taller than 6-foot-3 — gave the undersized Comets fits. West Carter shot an icy 32.2 percent, including an even chillier 4-for-25 mark from 3-point land.
“We ended up taking some very poor shots because they were extending us a little further out of our range,” said West Carter coach Jeremy Webb. “In the second half, I thought we got some pretty clean looks. But we went through stretches where we didn’t make shots.”
Salow’s assist counter clicked quickly in the second quarter. Four of his dozen dimes came in the period. He found Miller thrice on crisp passes and also hit Friley, who dropped in a bucket in traffic.
“He really went out with a bang tonight,” said Biggs of one of his two seniors.
In all, Ashland (20-8) had an uncanny 22 assists on 25 made baskets.
Hart, also a senior, grabbed seven rebounds. That statistic made the zone all the more effective, said Biggs.
“Seven rebounds on the back side of that zone is huge,” Biggs said. “When he’s rebounding like that, it allows us to stay with our smaller lineup.”
Salow added 11 points on the strength of three 3-pointers. Miller had 10 points.
Dixson had his way in the middle, going 12 of 18 from the floor and 6 of 8 from the foul line. He also tallied 10 boards.
Biggs talked about the 6-6 sophomore’s defense.
“I think he had three blocked shots, but he altered several,” said Ashland’s coach. “If he can come up and guard that high post, it makes the zone that much better.”
Despite a well below-average shooting effort (5 of 20), Kyle Brown led West Carter (8-17) with 16 points and 10 rebounds. The senior is eight points from tying the school record for career points. He and the Comets host Rowan County on Thursday night, which will be Senior Night.
Brown finally converted a 3-point try after seven long-range misfires to cut Ashland’s advantage to 41-35 with 3:20 to go in the third quarter.
Ashland answered with a 13-0 run.
West Carter’s Jacob Layne hit six of his seven shot attempts on Tuesday. He finished with 13 points. Dustin Black added 11.
Outside of Layne, the Comets were 13 of 52 (25 percent) from the field.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.