ASHLAND Nothing about Boyd County’s performance Monday night against Ashland said anything about it being the season opener.
Where most teams were simply trying to piece together a starting lineup for the first night of high school basketball across the Bluegrass State, the Lady Lions looked like they were 15 games in after cruising to a 76-49 win over the Kittens at Anderson Gymnasium.
Four players finished in double figures for the Lady Lions, led by Miss Basketball candidate Harley Paynter’s game-high 21. Newcomer Hannah Roberts had 14. Audrey Biggs netted 13 and Isabella Caldwell added 11 off the bench.
“I had a kid come off the bench tonight and got 11,” Boyd County coach Pete Fraley said. “That’s pretty good. Laney (Whitmore) is just pure energy out there. Harley can flat fill it up. She played well, shot the ball well. Hannah had 14 points and was in foul trouble most of the night. She knows how to finish.”
Boyd County snatched the opening points of the game off a Paynter triple and never turned back. Ashland pulled to within two at 6-4, but Paynter and Roberts were too much for the youthful Kittens to handle.
“I thought Harley got us off good,” Fraley said. “She hit that first jumper outside and then she went to the basket a couple times and got fouled. It was good to get that out of the way. It’s a rivalry game so you never know what’s going to happen. To have her come out and knock down a couple shots quick and then go inside and let Hannah pretty much impose her will (was good). And then Audrey … we’ve got a lot of weapons.”
Eighth-grader Khia Robinson connected on a free throw to move Ashland back to within three but Boyd County’s offense hit another gear behind a 12-3 run capped off by a pair of Biggs freebies with 29 seconds to play in the opening stanza.
Leading 26-15 to start the second, Boyd County raced out to a 35-15 lead behind a 9-0 run.
“I wanted to make a statement,” Fraley said. “We had two kids with two fouls and we inserted them back into the game and told them if they picked up their third, they were done for the half.”
Boyd County held Ashland to its lowest scoring total in a quarter in the second (five) and backed it up with eight in the third as the Lady Lions led 64-28 after three.
“We missed a couple shots that we can hit,” Ashland coach Bill Bradley said. “Had a couple 3s that went in and out and then they got a couple fast breaks on us and the lead went from 12 to 25 just like that.
"(Boyd County) will do that to people. They are a good team. They’ve played together and they look like they are having fun. You can tell their experience really showed tonight though.”
Ashland’s youth showed early on after Boyd County turned up its defensive pressure that forced turnovers into points at the other end. The Kittens started two seniors, a freshman and a pair of eighth-graders after graduating four of their six top scorers from last season.
Robinson led the Kittens with 12 points. Sellars and Cullop finished with 10 each.
“They did great for their first-ever varsity game they’ve played, along with Ella Sellars as well,” Bradley said of Robinson and Woods. “You have to remember the (Wallenfeltz) twins are really like freshmen due to injuries last season and having to sit out a season. We only really had two people who had any varsity experience tonight—Jordan Rakes and Carley Cullop—and I thought they played well, too. But for the young ones coming out against the No. 8 team in the state, I was well pleased.”
Boyd County played all 14 players dressed for the contest and saw eight produce points.
“The thing that concerned me was it's your first night out but it’s also your rivalry game,” Fraley said. “So, I didn’t know how we would react. We’ve got some young kids out there playing and I thought they did a great job, too. I think our experience kind of showed early.”
Playing their first game since falling in the region championship game nearly 10 months ago to Russell, Fraley said the buzz was literally in the air this morning when he reached for his cell phone.
“Woke up for four or five texts from the girls saying, ‘Let’s go, it's game day,’” Fraley said. “It’s good for them to get out here and play. It’s a good bunch of kids and they live for this; they play hard and they root for each other. It was a good showing for the first night out.”
FG Pct.: 54.5. FT Pct.: 52.8. 3-pointers: 7-20 (Roberts 0-2, Rucker 1-2, Paynter 2-6, Opell 1-1, Caldwell 3-5, Neese 0-1, Biggs 0-3). PF: 15. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 12.
FG Pct.: 34.1 FT Pct.: 77.8. 3-pointers: 5-20 (Robinson 2-8, Woods 1-3, Cullop 2-8, L. Wallenfeltz 0-1). PF: 20. Fouled out:Rakes. Turnovers: 16.
BOYD CO.26211712— 76
ASHLAND15 5 8 21— 49
Officials: Davey Fields, Kenneth Kegley, Jeremy Ruckel.