PIKEVILLE Scoring 3s came with ease for Paintsville on Tuesday night.
Real ease. Ultimate ease.
The Tigers, the champions of the 57th District, hit 14 3-pointers, including a remarkable 75 percent (9-of-12 attempts) in the first half, to cruise past Lawrence County, 84-54, in the quarterfinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the Appalachian Wireless Arena.
The win avenged an opening round loss to the Bulldogs in last year’s 15th Region quarterfinals.
“I’m just so proud of our kids and how they showed maturity in jumping out to a lead and not letting up,” Paintsville coach Landon Slone said. “We remembered the feeling of walking off the floor knowing that we let an opportunity slip away from us.”
Paintsville advances to Friday’s semifinal against Belfry, a 63-46 winner over Shelby Valley in Tuesday’s first quarterfinal game. Tip-off is set for 8:15 p.m. Johnson Central and Betsy Layne will play in the first semifinal round game at 6:30 p.m.
The Tigers, now 13-8, scored 10 unanswered points on two occasions in the second quarter alone, to take a 45-17 lead at the half.
Lawrence County (11-11), the runner-up of the 58th District, scored just four points in the second quarter. They went without a field goal for 7 minutes and 16 seconds before Trenton Adkins’ ended the drought.
“You cannot dig yourself into a hole like that against a good team in a tournament game,” said Lawrence County coach Chandler Thompson. “If [Paintsville] shoots like this, they will be hard to beat in this tournament.”
Junior Colby Fugate led the Tigers with a game-high 35 points, including 18 in the first half, to lead four players in double figures. Senior Braxton Tharp tossed in 14. Sophomore Connor Fugate added 13. Junior Baron Ratliff finished with 11, all in the first half.
Paintsville’s largest lead came at 31 points after Connor Fugate’s 3-pointer with 2:53 left made it 80-49. The Tigers finished the game connecting on 32 of 58 from the floor (54 percent), including 14 of 24 from 3-point range (58 percent). They also outrebounded Lawrence County by a lopsided 35-to-22 margin.
Junior Trenton Adkins had 22 points to lead the Bulldogs. Junior Cody Maynard added 12. Lawrence County last won a 15th Region title in 2016 and ends the season after making it to last year’s championship game against Martin County.
“This wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but I am so proud of our kids and our program,” Thompson added.
Paintsville last won a regional title in 2008. Tigers coach Landon Slone was a senior on that team. He admits that he often thinks back to the moment of winning a regional title as a player.
“I want this for our kids because they have done everything the right way on the court, in the classroom, and in the community,” said Slone. “It’s an honor to coach these kids and be a part of this program.”
LAWRENCE CO. 13 4 19 18 — 54
PAINTSVILLE 23 22 19 20 — 84
Lawrence County (54) — Cody Aymara 12, Baden Gillespie 9, Trenton Adkins 22, Kaden Gillespie 9, Dawson Bellamy 2. FT: 14-19.
Paintsville (84) — Braxton Tharp 14, Colby Fugate 35, Jaxon Watts 2, Baron Ratliff 11, Ryan Gibson 2, Boston Crace 2, Connor Fugate 13, Brett Gibson 2, Jase Kinner 3. FT: 6-6.