MOREHEAD--Brandon Baker must have spent at least 90 seconds Saturday hugging each of the East Carter Raiders he coaches.
Baker might have been the happiest, too. He watched his team hold off a late Ashland rally to secure a 59-49 16th Region semifinal win at Ellis T. Johnson Arena.
The Raiders meet Fairview for the title at 7:30 p.m. Monday. The Eagles dethroned three-time champion Elliott County, 57-52.
East Carter won its only regional crown in 1986, and Baker is connected — he was a sophomore starting point guard on that team.
“We’re concentrating on the present here, we’re 2010,” Baker said. “I’m not even sure they know I played basketball. This is their time, this is their show.”
As has been the case much of the season, senior Colt Barnhill’s 20 points and 14 rebounds led East (22-5) last night.
“That’s a great team effort, (Barnhill) had a big night, went to war for us,” Baker said. “He was taking a lot of contact, playing through contact. He finished it.”
As good as his numbers were, Barnhill will also be the first to share the love.
“It wasn’t me adapting, it was my players adapting around me,” Barnhill said. “We had a lot of back-door cuts around the back side.”
And there was a lot of love to share: senior Kyle Bair’s 13 points; the Raiders hitting 52.4 percent of their shots; and a defense that held Ashland to 34.6 from the field.
“We shot the ball very poorly (last night),” Ashland coach Buddy Biggs said. “We’ve got to do better than that to win a game against a bigger, stronger opponent…As far as what we wanted to do (Saturday), I thought we did every component except put the ball in the basket.”
Barnhill was largely responsible for East’s 75-60 win Jan. 26 in Grayson – his 24 points included 11-of-17 shooting from the field. To combat that, Biggs said there would be multiple Tomcats guarding him, which Baker anticipated.
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Dinky engine is big deal for historical society
More than half of the spectators watching the delivery of a piece of industrial history here Wednesday were gray-haired and some of them walked with canes.
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Burst of color
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Rowan's dream run ends in semifinal
Although the fairy tale didn't end with a crown, Rowan County's journey was magical while it lasted.
The Lady Vikings ran into a merciless Louisville Mercy team that attacked with furious pressure.
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Rowan stingy with Breathitt
Rowan County coach Scott Tackett can’t quite put a finger on it, but there is something special about the 2010 Lady Vikings.
“We may not be the most talented team, but I get a feeling about this team that I don't get a whole lot,” Tackett said. “There’s something special going on here.”
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