OLIVE HILL Almost.
The above six-letter word was an accurate description of Tuesday’s Ashland-West Carter girls basketball game at John “Hop” Brown Court, a contest in which the Lady Comets almost blew two large leads before hanging on, 62-57.
Almost and several synonyms worked for several reasons.
You could have gone with “nearly.” West Carter nearly lost a 30-14 second-quarter lead, which the Lady Comets followed by just about dropping a 38-22 advantage.
“I was thinkin’ at that point we played pretty good basketball,” West Carter coach Aaron Rayburn said. “And pretty solid; we’d done a lot of things really well. And then things started breaking loose.”
The Kittens “very nearly” caught up in the fourth quarter when Morgan Bradley 1-and-1 free throws with 2:37 to go. West Carter’s Allie Stone (her 22 points led the Lady Comets) followed with a pair of free throws some nine seconds later.
The Kittens’ Carley Cullop had a 3-point opportunity, which West Carter’s Kallie Burchett grabbed, followed by Morgan Berry’s layup with three seconds to go.
What was possibly galling for Ashland was, the Kittens have dropped their last three after winning six straight. Ashland (17-9) coach Bill Bradley was nonetheless pleased.
“Being down and then coming back against one of the top two teams in the region on their floor, that was very inspiring,” he said.
West Carter (22-7) has taken its last three after dropping four straight, but they almost didn’t survive Bradley’s one-girl layup line. She led all scorers with 27 points, many of them with the same shot — left-handed layups.
“She can really go both hands,” Bill Bradley said. “She’s left-handed, so as long as you have that left side, she’ll take it.”
It took Ashland a little more than two minutes to score its first field goal, while West Carter countered with a 12-1 run.
Here’s where Julia Parker perked up — her five points over the last two minutes closed West Carter’s lead to 17-10 after one quarter.
“Really, Julia Parker, we started givin’ her too much space,” Rayburn said.
An integer between two and four typified the second quarter’s first three minutes. Stone, Berry and Ragan Adkins each canned a long, far one, and they helped West Carter to a seemingly safe 30-14 advantage.
It turned out the Lady Comets’ lead was as secure as trying to traverse four lanes of Interstate 64 at rush hour in Huntington.
Then came Bradley’s 10 points — all but two on left-handed layups — Parker’s five points and two each from Cullop and Miranda Martin, and the Kittens trailed by only 45-40 with a quarter to play.
Bill Bradley said Cullop was supposed to take the potential game-tying 3.
“She’d just hit one a little bit ago,” he said. “And we knew they’d just hang all over Julia.”
ASHLAND 10 12 18 17 — 57
W. CARTER 17 17 11 17 — 62
Ashland (57) — Parker 21, Bradley 27, Miranda Martin 1, Cullop 5, Miller 3. 3-Pt. FG: 7 (Parker 5, Cullop, Miller). FT: 8-11. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: None.
West Carter (62) — Bear 10, Adkins 3, Stone 22, 1, Berry 12, Burchett 14. 3-Pt. FG: 4 (Stone 2, Adkins, Berry). FT: 20-25. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.