MOREHEAD--Elliott County tried stubbornly to maintain its iron grip on the 16th Region championship.
Finally, somebody pried it away.
Fairview withstood a fourth-quarter comeback to beat the region’s three-time reigning kingpin 57-52 in the semifinals Saturday night at Morehead State University.
“We finally got them out of there,’’ said Fairview senior Brent Jackson, who made big shots down the stretch to assure the tournament a new winner. “Elliott County is always a tough out. We knew that wasn’t going to change tonight.’’
The Lions took advantage of Fairview’s string of missed free throws to rally from a 12-point deficit in the final six minutes. Junior star Timmy Knipp fueled the surge before joining center Jacob Ison on the bench with five fouls.
Even so, Elliott County closed to 54-52 on Craig Faulkner’s basket with 58 seconds remaining. The Lions had a chance to do more damage after forcing a turnover, but missed two free throws of their own.
Fairview nailed down the victory as Jackson converted three of four from the foul line in the final 31 seconds.
“I told myself we just had to have those,’’ Jackson said. “It was a big relief to finally knock them down.’’
As a result, Fairview ended Elliott County’s 10-game winning streak in the regional tournament and advanced to its first regional title game in 20 years. The Eagles will play East Carter for the championship Monday at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s quite an accomplishment,’’ said Fairview coach Derek Cooksey said. “Elliott County is well coached and has a great program. We’ve had some epic battles the last few years.’’
Jackson finished with 17 points to lead the Eagles, who hiked their record to 23-7 with the help of a 43-26 rebounding advantage. Jackson connected on a 3-pointer with 2:16 left after Elliott County sliced the deficit to three points.
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