Fairview - Ashland  basketball

Ashland's Danny Coleman gets two points over Fairviews Caleb Collins during the fourth qt. of their game at Fairview, Friday.

Ashland rallied in the second half and held off Fairview 66-64 to claim a 64th District win Friday night at George Cooke Memorial Gym.

“We needed it after struggling so bad Tuesday,” Ashland coach Buddy Biggs said, referring to the Tomcats’ 55-38 district loss at Rose Hill. “It keeps our hopes alive of getting the first seed. We still have to beat Rose Hill and Boyd, but if we’d lost tonight, we had no shot.”

Ashland (11-6) improved to 3-1 in the district while Fairview (10-6) slipped to 1-3. The teams will each face Rose Hill and Boyd County one more time during the regular season.

On the other hand, Fairview coach Rex Cooksey didn’t seem as concerned with district seeding.

“District games are great for the teams and the fans but we’ve got a lot of basketball left to play in the next six weeks. The only thing I know is, come about Feb. 26, you better have all your Is dotted and your Ts crossed.”

The win was two fold for Ashland, which has struggled on the road this season.

“This game kind of gave everyone some confidence,” Ashland senior Matt Thomas said. “We’ve been struggling on the road, so to come out here and get a road win kind of got that monkey off our back.”

The Tomcats were just 1-4 on the road entering Friday’s game but are 8-2 at home.

The game went back-and-forth early until Fairview produced a run to lead by seven late in the first. Ashland began chipping away and eventually took a 20-19 lead off a pair of free throws by J.D. Adams with 4:27 to go in the first half. Thomas added four consecutive points and the Tomcats led by five.

However, Fairview wouldn’t go away and Shawn Williams knotted the game at 25, hitting the second of two free-throw attempts with 1:33 on the clock. Brent Jackson and Caleb Collins sandwiched a Thomas field goal with 3-pointers, giving the Eagles a 31-27 halftime lead.

Fairview led by as much as seven in the third and tried to continue pulling away but the Tomcats never backed off.

“I thought we responded well in the first half when they had us down,” Cooksey said. “We played well up into the third quarter and hit a little spell on both ends of the floor. Then in the fourth quarter, we lost some focus on the defensive end of the floor.”

Once again, Adams connected on a free-throw in the bonus to tie the game at 49 with 5:46 to play in the fourth. Fairview’s Cameron Hall responded with a long two, his first points of the second half, but Ashland fought right back.

Danny Coleman was fouled on a 3-point attempt and sank all three shots at the line. Ashland took its first lead of the second half, up 52-51 with 5:17 remaining.

The Tomcats pulled away with an 11-5 run, leading 63-56 with 1:19 on the clock.

After forcing a turnover, Hall sank a foul shot, bringing the Eagles within two, 63-61, with 44.5 seconds to go.

“They scored 14 out of their 16 possessions in the fourth quarter,” Cooksey said. “Any time someone’s that efficient down the stretch, we’ve got to make stops.”

Hall drained a three from the top of the key as Fairview trailed 65-64 with 3.3 ticks on the clock. Thomas added one more free throw and Hall missed a half-court shot at the buzzer to finish the game.

“I thought we lost focus, more so on the defensive end, as far as what they were trying to do with us and matchups,” Cooksey said. “We’ve got to mature in that area for us to take another step forward.”

The Tomcats defeated Fairview 72-57 on Jan. 4, but Biggs said he knew Ashland was going to have to battle since Fairview had home-court advantage this time around.

“We knew we weren’t going to beat them by 15 or 20 here,” he said. “We really did the same thing we did last time and just manned up, full court. The traps worked early, but they were exploiting those and getting wide open shots. You can’t let Hall, Collins or Jackson do that. They’re just too good.”

All three hit double figures for the Eagles, led by Collins with 20. Hall and Jackson added 15 and 13 respectively.

“We’ve got good balance,” Cooksey said. “We’ve got six or seven kids that could lead us in scoring but we need to get back moving the ball, playing without the ball and getting people involved.”

The Eagles shot just 38.9 percent from the field, but that didn’t seem to concern Cooksey.

“I don’t think that’s a big issue. Some night’s the ball’s just not going to go in and you’ve got to pick up on defense. It’s a target sport and a lot of it has to do with the type of shots you take and the defense you face.”

Thomas led the way for Ashland with a game-high 26 points. He also grabbed four steals.

“I can’t say enough about what Matt did tonight,” Biggs said. “He totally dominated the game. He’s our heart and soul.”

Danny Coleman added 16 points and six rebounds before fouling out.

The Tomcats play Henry Clay today at 12:45 p.m. in the Kentucky Prep Classic at Montgomery County.

Fairview takes on Menifee County tonight at 7:15 in the 16th Region All “A” Classic at Bath County.

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