LEXINGTON Boyle County had the moves like Jagger in the second half on Thursday night.
Jagger Gillis splashed a 3 to give his team its biggest lead of the contest early in the fourth quarter. The Rebels senior added 10 points the rest of the way as Boyle County pulled away in the final five minutes for a 70-56 win over Paintsville in the opening round of the Sweet Sixteen at Rupp Arena.
“The guys stepped up,” said Boyle County coach Dennie Webb. “We just had to keep grinding and cut down on our turnovers. We talked about it and the guys did that. We have to keep that edge defensively with our effort. It took a while. I didn’t know if it was going to happen, but we finally got it going.”
The Rebels committed 10 turnovers in the first half but forced 14 Tigers miscues in the second 16 minutes. Boyle County held a 2-0 lead in the opening seconds before finally pulling ahead late in the third period.
“I thought we played extremely hard,” said Paintsville coach Landon Slone. “Our execution in the second half wasn’t there. We turned the ball over way too much. Their pressure bothered us, and it sped us up. Our guys fought like we wanted them to, but we couldn’t pull it out at the end.”
Luke Sheperson’s scored a bucket during a 11-1 fourth-quarter Rebel run gave his team the lead for good. It preceded Gillis’ big trey.
“We’re all brothers out there,” Gillis said. “When we start to click, it’s all one smooth motion. We stay on each other. We all try to be leaders out there and pick each other up. We kept the momentum going.”
Sheperson found his groove inside and added to his impressive season field goal percentage of 61.2%. He made 12 of his 15 shot attempts and led Boyle County with 25 points. He also pulled down eight rebounds.
Gillis was 8 of 8 at the free-throw line down the stretch and finished with 19 points. Luke Imfeld tallied double figures with 17 points.
The Rebels won the rebounding battle, 35-19.
“They played very physical defense,” Colby Fugate said. “We just kept turning the ball over and we weren’t getting what we wanted.”
“It hurts you, especially in the second half,” Slone added about the Rebels’ rebounding advantage. “It also hurt you in the first half. I felt like we could have had a bigger lead at halftime. The got a couple of second opportunities at the end of the second quarter. It was just the overall energy. (Boyle County) came out and wanted it more in the second half.”
Paintsville (15-9) opened the third quarter with the first three baskets to increase its lead to 33-22. Five quick points and a pair of Sheperson buckets quickly closed the gap to a point entering the fourth quarter.
Boyle County (22-4) spent much of the contest behind on the scoreboard. The Tigers jumped out to a 23-14 advantage in the second frame after a Colby Fugate bucket and a Baron Ratliff layup.
The Rebels anticipated stopping Paintsville guard Colby Fugate as its key to an opening-round victory on Thursday.
The Rebels found out they had to deal with another Fugate.
Sophomore Connor Fugate came off the bench to provide an instant impact in the Tigers’ first state tournament appearance since 2008.
“It was a dream come true,” Connor Fugate said of playing at Rupp Arena, “especially for these four seniors. They have worked their whole lives for it. I can’t thank them enough for helping us get here.”
Colby and Connor shared team-high scoring honors with 16 points apiece. Braxton Tharp added 10 points.
“That was something we talked about in all of our practices,” Webb said of stopping Colby Fugate. “We treated him like all the top scorers we play against. We ran our best defender at him. We tried to make take the toughest shots we can. He’s going to make shots. That kid can play.”
Boyle County will play Ashland or Knox Central in the state quarterfinals today at 5 p.m.
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PAINTSVILLE FG FT REB TP
Tharp 3-6 4-5 0 10
Col. Fugate 5-16 4-6 3 16
Watts 0-3 3-4 1 3
Ratliff 4-7 0-0 4 9
Gibson 1-2 0-0 5 2
Castle 0-0 0-0 0 0
Con. Fugate 6-8 2-2 5 16
TOTAL 19-42 13-17 19 56
FG Pct: 45.2. FT Pct: 76.5 3-point FGs: 5-21 (Tharp 0-3, Col. Fugate 2-9, Watts 0-2, Ratliff 1-3, Con. Fugate 2-4) PF: 15. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 16.
BOYLE CO. FG FT REB TP
Sheperson 12-15 1-2 8 25
Imfeld 5-14 5-6 6 17
Webb 2-5 2-2 2 6
Barnes 1-4 0-2 6 2
Gillis 5-10 8-8 5 19
Prewitt 0-0 0-0 0 0
Carr 0-1 0-0 0 0
Stone 0-0 0-0 0 0
Wilson 0-1 0-0 0 0
Hodge 0-0 0-0 0 0
Tarter 0-0 1-2 5 1
TOTAL 25-50 17-22 35 70
FG Pct: 50.0. FT Pct: 77.3. 3-point FGs: 3-14 (Imfeld 2-8, Webb 0-1, Barnes 0-1, Gillis 1-3, Carr 0-1) PF: 16. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 12.
PAINTSVILLE 19 8 14 15 — 56
BOYLE CO. 14 8 18 30 — 70
Officials—Kyle Stewart, Jeremy Grantham, Rian Craft