OLIVE HILL Gage Leadingham's statistics were pretty good.
West Carter's senior guard scored 11 points in Saturday's 54-47 win over Fairview in the 16th Region All “A” Classic first round at John “Hop” Brown Court. He hit four of five field goal attempts, was 3-of-4 from the free throw line and added a rebound and five steals.
What was better: simply having Leadingham on the floor.
Leadingham was a member of West Carter's football team that reached the Class 2A semifinals Dec. 11 before falling to eventual state champion Beechwood. He suffered three broken ribs and a punctured left lung that night; Saturday was his first game back.
“It was one of the worst pains I ever felt,” Leadingham said. “It was horrible, but I recovered fast; everything healed good … I'm just thankful I got to come back so soon.”
Fellow Comet Tyson Webb doesn't know how Leadingham recovered so quickly.
“He's tough,” Webb said. “We definitely wouldn't have won that game (Saturday) if he wasn't playing. That's who he is; he comes out and plays hard.”
Neither does West Carter coach Jeremy Webb.
“For him to come out (Saturday) in his first game and do what he did was huge for us,” he said. “It's truly amazing because he had a punctured lung, a deflated lung; you're looking at surgery to inflate that lung.”
The best Leadingham remembers, he was trying to knock down a Beechwood pass in the third quarter.
“It felt like when I was coming down, somebody went in, and I fell on a shoe, or something landed on my back,” he said. “It felt like I just landed on something, a helmet or something.
“I can't really explain it; it happened so fast.”
Neither West Carter nor Fairview (0-2) shot very well Saturday. The Comets were 17-of-40 (42.5%) from the field, while the Eagles struggled to 15-of-38 (39.5%).
The Eagles were the iciest – just one point, a Jaxon Manning free throw with 2:38 left in the second quarter. They were so cold, after Tanner Johnson's bucket with 1:29 to go in the first – nary a bucket until Bubba Day's score with 6:44 left in the third.
West Carter was steamier – a 17-1 second period run Jackson Bond led with eight points.
“I told our guys they missed a golden opportunity to actually win and advance in the tournament,” Fairview coach Roger Newton said. “If we hadn't gone 17-1 in the second quarter, we played three good quarters.”
Saturday's second half, however, Manning seemed hotter than Wudinna, Australia, where the temperature reached 102.3 degrees. His 26 points, with 20 in the final 16 minutes, led everyone.
It wasn't enough. Webb's 3-pointer and Sam Jones's bucket put West Carter ahead, 45-32, with 4:25 to go in the game.
The Comets host Menifee County in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Leadingham said his ribs still hurt a little; he also has some difficulty breathing deeply.
“It's not too bad,” he said. “I could deal with it, but I think in a week or so I'll be back to 100%.”
West Carter 59
Aurora's 2015 song “Runaway” was as fitting a musical title as you could find, and not only because the Lady Comets forced a running clock by taking a 47-11 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Lady Comets: out-rebounded the Lady Eagles, 51-27; notched a 14-0 shutout in bench points; scored 27 points off 19 Fairview turnovers; and took a 19-8 win in second-chance scoring.
Fairview, meanwhile, made just nine of 43 shots.
Those were just the team figures. Individually, junior Beth Middleton led West Carter with 14 points, and junior Allie Stone added 12 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.
“I like that we are very unselfish; there's a lot of us that can score,” West Carter coach Faith Conn said. “I like that nobody is afraid to score, and I like that everybody goes in with confidence."
First-year Fairview coach Mo Mullins, meanwhile, talked about wounded digits.
“To be honest with you, it just sticks out like a sore thumb, and it will stick out until we get better at it, it's just our youth and inexperience,” Mullins said. “You know, none of these girls other than Josey (Nelson), our senior, has had any kind of quality varsity playing minutes whatsoever.”
Mia Newton and Kierra Loving led Fairview with six points apiece.
West Carter (2-1) hosts Menifee County in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
FAIRVIEW 5 4 4 9 — 22
W. CARTER 21 16 16 6 — 59
Fairview (22) — Newton 6, Worthington 5, Nelson 5, Loving 6. 3-Pt. FG: 2 (Worthington and Nelson). FT: 2-5. Fouls: 9. Fouled out: None.
West Carter (59) — Middleton 14, Bond 4, Nichols 3, Stone 12, M. Henderson 6, Jordan 9, Gilliam 6, H. Henderson 3, Stegall 2. 3-Pt. FG: 2 (H. Henderson and Nichols). FT: 7-12. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: None.
FAIRVIEW 9 1 18 19 — 47
W. CARTER 10 17 9 18 — 54
Fairview (47) — Johnson 8, Muncy 1, Manning 26, Caldwell 2, Day 10. 3-Pt. FG: 6 (Manning 4, Day 2). FT: 11-17. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: None.
West Carter (54) — Bond 14, Webb 13, Nichols 5, Jones 2, Callahan 7, Berry 2, Leadingham 11. 3-Pt. FG: 1 (Webb). FT: 19-27. Fouls: 15.