MOREHEAD Boyd County coach Randy Anderson could see his team wasn’t having any fun.
The Lions from Cannonsburg overcame a slow start in a turnover-prone contest with Lewis County and made enough plays in the second half to earn a 50-39 victory in the 16th Region Tournament quarterfinals at Morehead State University on Monday night.
Boyd County has plenty of experience on the bigger floor at Ellis T. Johnson Arena. Anderson felt like his team just needed to relax.
“It was going to come down to who could talk on a big floor, who could guard on a big floor and who could hold (their opponent) to one-and-dones,” Anderson said. “I told our kids at halftime, 'You act like you’ve not been here before. You are just so stiff. Go play and have fun.' I felt in the second half we had a lot more drive and we were more aggressive.”
The Lions in red matched their point total for the entire first half in the final frame. The offensive makeover included a key 7-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to gain separation after Lewis County cut the Boyd County lead to two.
“I am glad we played the last 16 minutes like we did,” Anderson said. “If we finished like we did at halftime, it would have been hard to come back and say we can’t play like we are scared. We can’t play like we don’t want to make mistakes. We have to play and have fun. With that floor and having that experience of knowing how to finish off a game, it is huge.”
Lewis County entered the game fresh off their third straight 63rd District title. The Lions from Vanceburg grabbed their final advantage early in the fourth stanza on consecutive Kolby McCann buckets.
Coach Scott Tackett said he was not pleased with the how the flow of the game was managed. It hampered his team’s aggressive nature.
McCann played the fourth quarter with four fouls after missing many minutes in the first half. Lewis County faced a majority of the final period without versatile junior Trey Gerike after he fouled out.
“We turned the ball over,” Tackett said. “There were a couple of times that we got slapped and beat that they didn’t call. Instead of attacking, our kids got timid with the basketball. Since I took this job, I told them that in 99% of games the most aggressive team is going to win.”
Tackett did not recognize the same team that had won its last six games.
“For whatever reason, we did not have the same energy we’ve had for the last three weeks,” Tackett said. “I don’t understand how on the biggest stage that could happen. On Saturday, I kicked my guys out of the gym. We were just going through the motions. I asked them if they were satisfied. They gave me the stock answer, ‘No,’ but that is kind of how we played.”
Lewis County committed 21 turnovers in the game, including 13 miscues in the first half, as both teams struggled to find a rhythm when they had possession.
Sophomore Jason Ellis gave Boyd County an instant offensive boost off the bench. The forward collected five quick points early in the second quarter and finished off an and-1.
“I just want to do my role,” Ellis said. “I want to rebound, finish at the rim and run the court. I’m fine with any role that coach gives me. I play for my team and not for myself.”
Lewis County (14-9) answered with baskets from Bailey Thomas and Drew Noble. Rheyce DeBoard splashed a pair of triples to get Boyd County even at halftime with a 19-19 tie.
Ellis once again finished inside in the closing minutes. He scored seven points down the stretch.
Ellis said playing alongside the eight seniors on the team has made him stronger in those moments.
“We got good energy from everybody on the court,” Ellis said. “We were helping out on the defensive end. We won on the defensive end.”
“They have definitely made me tougher,” he added about the seniors. “They have made me realize it’s not all about me. This year I want to win for the seniors. I will give it everything I got.”
DeBoard led all scorers with 18 points for Boyd County (15-9). Ellis was also in double figures with 12 points.
Anderson has seen plenty of growth from his bench during an altered 2020-21 campaign.
“I think in the second part of the season he really started getting in a flow,” Anderson said of Ellis. “He bumbled the ball a couple of times in the first half, but he really played solid all night long. Graden (McNeil) filled in for Austin when he had a bum ankle. That experience has helped him. He was solid, too.”
McCann netted 15 points for Lewis County. Gerike added 10.
Tackett looks to a bright future for his club after his first season as the boys coach in Vanceburg.
“We get Trey and Logan (Liles) back,” Tackett said. “Drew Noble is an eighth-grader that played big minutes for us. We will have freshmen next year that we like a whole lot. I think we will be in the mix next year.”
Boyd County will play Rowan County, which secured a 54-37 comeback win over Elliott County, in the region tournament semifinals on Thursday at 8 p.m.
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BOYD CO. FG FT REB TP
Meade 0-2 0-0 1 0
Webb 0-2 3-4 1 3
Newsome 1-5 2-2 4 4
DeBoard 6-13 4-4 6 18
Gibbs 2-6 4-8 8 8
Ellis 4-4 4-5 3 12
Hicks 0-0 0-0 0 0
McNeil 2-4 1-1 1 5
Cumpton 0-0 0-0 0 0
Blevins 0-0 0-0 0 0
Walker 0-2 0-0 2 0
TOTAL 15-38 18-24 27 50
FG Pct: 39.5. FT Pct: 75.0. 3-point FGs: 2-12 (Meade 0-1, Newsome 0-1, DeBoard 2-7, McNeil 0-1) PF: 17. Fouled out: Newsome. Turnovers: 14.
LEWIS CO. FG FT REB TP
Thomas 1-2 4-4 4 6
Liles 1-8 0-0 1 2
McCann 4-6 7-9 3 15
Gerike 3-8 3-4 4 10
Spencer 1-2 0-0 5 2
Jordan 0-0 0-0 0 0
Burris 0-1 0-0 0 0
Noble 2-2 0-0 0 4
TOTAL 12-29 14-17 18 39
FG Pct: 41.4. FT Pct: 82.4. 3-point FGs: 1-8 (Liles 0-3, McCann 0-1, Gerike 1-3, Burriss 0-1) PF: 20. Fouled out: Thomas, Gerike. Turnovers: 21.
BOYD CO. 8 11 12 19 — 50
LEWIS CO. 10 9 9 11 — 39
Officials: Benny Campbell, Larry Thacker, Mike Melton