OLIVE HILL Elliott County coach Greg Adkins thinks his team is making the necessary adjustments and improvements to succeed in the big picture.
The Lions did that in the here and now in their game at West Carter on Monday, too. Elliott County responded to the Comets’ 8-0 spurt to close the third quarter by holding West Carter scoreless for the first 5:21 of the fourth to secure a 55-38 victory at Hop Brown Court.
“I like the poise,” Adkins said. “I like our mentality. I like our maturity. Maybe we’re growing up a little bit.”
Chase Porter led the Lions with 14 points. Hunter Holbrook and Korbin Spencer each notched 11, and Landon Griffith chipped in 10.
Ben Jordan paced the Comets with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Shooting wasn’t West Carter’s problem — the Comets hit 40 percent of their field goals. However, they did struggle to even get into their offense, committing 22 turnovers to the Lions’ five.
For Adkins, that was a result of Elliott County’s solid work defensively inside.
“I thought Collin (Howell) really established what we wanted to do early and made things really tough on Ben. Hunter did a good job on (West Carter’s Hadyn) Roe,” Adkins said. “That’s where our defense started at. We were able to pressure their guards.”
The way Comets coach Jeremy Webb saw it, “we beat ourselves out there.
“Right now we’re playing against ourselves and not the game,” Webb continued. “It’s just very frustrating. We’re worried about simple things, fundamental things, and until we relax on the offensive end of the floor and just start playing, then we’re gonna struggle. We’re gonna continue to play like this.”
Elliott County (8-4) closed the first half with a 21-10 run to lead 33-21 at intermission and went up by 17 points on two occasions in the third quarter. Then Roe scored down low, Dalton Brown hit a 3-pointer and Jordan converted an and-1 to get West Carter within 40-31 entering the fourth.
But Jordan’s bucket was the Comets’ last until just 2:39 remained, and by then, the Lions led comfortably.
West Carter (5-7) committed seven turnovers in the fourth frame.
“If you turn the basketball over like we did tonight, we’re not gonna win very many basketball games doing that,” Webb said.
Webb and Adkins each credited Elliott County’s depth and balance. Jonathon Sloas didn’t score, but he collected seven rebounds and provided a spark with hustle and interior defense. Spencer totaled double figures off the bench and made three steals in the second quarter.
“We’ve got depth. I think that’s our greatest strength,” Adkins said. “We’ve got a lot of numbers that can play, and we can keep guys out there that we believe in and can come out and play well.”
Monday’s victory was the Lions’ second against West Carter in six days and their fourth straight overall after a 1-4 stretch. Three of those losses came at Clinton County’s holiday tournament.
“We really challenged ourselves,” Adkins said. “I think we played at least three teams down there that could be regional champs, state tournament teams, so I think the tournament, all in all, was good for us. (It) kind of prepped us for regional play.
“We got a lot of room to get better, but I think we’re taking some strides.”
Elliott County improves to 2-0 in 62nd District seeding action, while West Carter drops to 0-2. Morgan County is 1-0 and East Carter is 0-1.
Both teams play another seed game Thursday. The Lions host the Cougars, and the Comets entertain the Raiders.
ZACK KLEMME can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658. Follow @zklemmeADI on Twitter.