SUMMIT An always physical Boyd County-Ashland girls basketball series took it up a notch Monday night.

Boyd County wrestled the lead away from the Kittens on Harley Paynter’s floater with 5:30 remaining and the Lady Lions went on to grab a 58-52 victory.

How rough was it?

“Very,” said Paynter, a standout junior guard who snared seven rebounds to go with her game-high 24 points. “We were really battling back and forth. Sometimes they would call a foul, sometimes they wouldn’t.”

Ashland finished with three more field goals, but Boyd County made 17 of 28 free throws to the Kittens’ 7-for-10.

“The way the game was called, we could have adjusted better,” Ashland coach Bill Bradley said. “Obviously, you could tell early they weren’t going to call many fouls inside. From the get go, Boyd was just more physical. I think we were expecting some fouls and they weren’t calling them.”

Boyd County, winner of seven of its last eight games, tried to take control with a 14-0 run to open the second quarter.

Audrey Biggs started it by driving for a three-point play and teammate Emma Borders followed by muscling in an offensive rebound. Paynter and Bailey Rucker each added a 3-pointer during the surge as the Lady Lions went up 28-18.

Ashland responded by stringing together the next 10 points as Julia Parker converted a three-point play and also bombed in a 3-pointer.

After several lead changes in the third quarter, Morgan Bradley gave the Kittens their final lead at 45-44 with 5:30 remaining on a strong inside move that resulted in her three-point play.

Paynter answered, however, hitting a floater to start Boyd County’s decisive 9-0 run. Rucker scored five consecutive points beginning when she measured a 3-pointer after finding herself open. Down the stretch, Rucker, Paynter and Biggs each made two free throws on consecutive trips to the foul line.

“I told the girls, one possession at a time,” Boyd County coach Pete Fraley said. “It was a good team effort for us. I’m glad to get out of here with a win.”

Paynter and Rucker shot a combined 7-for-12 from beyond the arc. Rucker, also part of the Lady Lions’ strong junior class, finished with 17 points and seven rebounds — five on the offensive end.

“Bailey was hitting shots, rebounding, giving us a lot on defense,” Paynter said. “These team are rivals, so it’s always going to be a good, hard-fought game. This win gives us more momentum and confidence.”

Boyd County (11-6) improved to 5-0 against 16th Region opponents this season as it pursues a fourth consecutive regional championship.

 Parker led Ashland with 20 points. Sophomore Mikayla Martin delivered 15 rebounds and nine points despite foul trouble, while Bradley found her stride around the basket in the second half to post 11 points and six rebounds.

“Morgan adjusted in the second half and decided to get more physical,” Ashland’s coach said. “We’re OK. It’s halfway through. We know what our strengths are and what we have to work on.”

The Kittens play at home Thursday against Mason County. Boyd heads to Ohio on Saturday to meet Thornville Sheridan in the Tri-State Hoops Throwdown at Fairland High School. The game is set for 7 p.m.

“They’re 13-1,” Fraley said of the next challenge on another demanding Lady Lions schedule. “We don’t shy away from anybody. We will play whenever, wherever.”  

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ASHLAND    FG    FT    REB    TP

Bradley    5-13    1-3    6    11

Cullop    3-7    0-0    2    7

Martin    2-9    5-5    15    9

Parker    8-16    1-1    3    20

Adkins    1-3    0-1    0    2

Miller    1-4    0-0    1    3

Sorrell    0-1    0-0    4    0

Team            3

TOTALS    20-53    7-10    34    52

FG Pct.: 37.7. FT Pct.: 70.0. 3-point FGs: 5-19 (Parker 2-9, Cullop 1-5, Bradley 0-1, Miller 1-4). PF: 26. Fouled out: Martin, Adkins. Turnovers: 18.

BOYD CO.    FG    FT    REB    TP

Borders    2-5    0-1    4    4

Rucker    5-10    4-4    7    17

Biggs    2-14    4-5    6    8

Opell    0-2    3-6    3    3

Paynter    7-11    6-10    7    24

Caldwell    1-1    0-0    2    2

Parsons    0-2    0-2    4    0

Curnutte    0-0    0-0    0    0

Team            3

TOTALS    17-45    17-28    36    58

FG Pct.: 37.8. FT Pct.: 60.7. 3-point FGs: 7-22 (Rucker 3-6, Paynter 4-6, Borders 0-2, Biggs 0-6, Opell 0-1, Parsons 0-1). PF: 16. Fouled out: Biggs. Turnovers: 18.

ASHLAND    18    10    14    10    —    52

BOYD CO.    14    16    14    14    —    58

Officials: Ken Catron, Jordan Barker, Brian Wallingford.       

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