OLIVE HILL Elliott County spent most of the 16th Region All “A” Classic semifinal at the free throw line.
The Lions needed every free point to put away Raceland on Thursday night at John “Hop” Brown Court.
The Lions quickly answered a 3-pointer by the Rams’ Andrew Floyd to send the game into overtime. Elliott County grabbed a lead with quick buckets and its court speed to advance with a 63-57 victory.
“It’s something we have talked a lot about the last couple of weeks,” Elliott County coach Greg Adkins said. “We have to attack the basket. We want to have a get-to-the-rim mentality. I thought we carried that out tonight.”
The Lions collected 34 attempts from the charity stripe, 10 in the extra session, and made 24. Cameron Adams hit a triple and Gatlin Griffith navigated his way to the basket for a layup to give Elliott County the lead for good before it sealed the victory at the line.
“We didn’t have much of an offense (in overtime),” Raceland coach Joe Bryan said. “We got down pretty quick. We had to shoot some 3s to try and get back in it. We pressured and had to foul. Elliott County made some free throws.”
Nathaniel Buckner led the Lions with 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Griffith added 15 points and Taylor Whitley netted 13, all from the free-throw line.
Adkins said his team showed a lot of resolve to close out the victory after the Lions missed a pair at the stripe that allowed Floyd the game-tying shot from downtown.
“We just showed a lot of toughness,” Adkins said. “We didn’t worry about what happened (at the end of regulation). We willed ourselves across the finish line. It’s a credit to our kids.”
The Lions possess plenty of quality guards, but Buckner became the focal point of the Elliott County offense to start the second half. The senior tallied the first eight points in the third quarter to give his team the lead back. The Comets maintained it until the score was knotted 44-44 late in the fourth quarter.
“He was big for us,” Adkins said. “(Buckner) helped establish our offense and had that tough mindset.”
Elliott County (10-2) jumped out to a 13-2 lead after 11 straight points to begin the game. Eli and Gatlin Griffith along with Buckner each had four points during the early run.
Elliott County was quicker to the ball in the first half and was rewarded with free points in the opening period.
Nearly half of the Lions’ points in the first two quarters came at the charity stripe.
A Will Farley tip-in supplied the Rams with a much-needed energy boost. As the seconds ticked away to close out the first frame, a final triple bounced off the soft rim. Farley managed to get a hand on it to bank it in the basket.
Floyd and Kyle Broughton each splashed 3s to begin the second stanza to draw Raceland closer. Jacob Gauze supplied the next four points to pull the Rams even. An 8-0 run followed to give Raceland its first lead.
Gauze produced his own putback to give the Rams a 26-25 advantage at halftime.
Floyd tallied 22 points to lead Raceland (7-8). Broughton had 11 points and Gauze posted a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
“Jacob has been a good player for us this season,” Bryan said. “He’s got to be a double-double guy. He is working on that. His aggression and maturity level has really improved throughout the year.”
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ELLIOTT CO. 13 12 14 11 13 — 63
RACELAND 6 20 9 15 7 — 57
Elliott County (63) — E. Griffith 6, Adams 8, Whitley 13, G. Griffith 15, Sturgill, Buckner 18, Holbrook, Fannin, Brickley 3. 3-Pt FGs: 3 (Adams 2, Brickley). FT: 24-34 Fouls: 9.
Raceland (57) — Floyd 22, Gallion, Broughton 11, Newman 4, Gauze 15, Topping 3, Thacker, Perkins, Farley 2. 3-Pt FGs: 7 (Floyd 4, Broughton 2, Topping). FT: 6-9. Fouls: 24.