RACELAND After a bumpy last three weeks of 2019, West Carter’s boys basketball team appears to be finding its stride in the new year.
The Comets pulled away from Menifee County, 81-56, in Saturday’s opening round of the 16th Region All “A” Classic at Raceland.
It marked the fourth consecutive victory for coach Jeremy Webb’s squad. Two nights earlier, West Carter defeated East Carter by 13 points.
“Coming off a rivalry game like that, you wonder how your kids are going to respond,” Webb said. “We played well early, got a little sloppy and then did what we needed to do to advance.”
Senior Braden Leadingham scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half to propel West Carter into a semifinal matchup with Bath County on Monday night.
The Comets are itching to get back to the All “A” state level at Eastern Kentucky University for the first time since 2012.
“Bath County beat us (in the All ‘A’ region semifinals) the last two years,” Leadingham said. “Coming into this tournament, we wanted to beat them, win the whole thing and go to Richmond.”
West Carter grabbed a 9-0 lead and shot 54% against a Menifee County team playing without top scorer Dalton Martin due to injury.
The Wildcats hung around, using consecutive baskets from Ben Rose, Ethan Fugett and Eli Johnson to close to 49-40 with 1:43 left in the third quarter.
”Menifee has some really good shooters with the ability to give you problems.” Webb said.
Leadingham responded by scoring seven points in a 9-2 run to end the period. West Carter (7-6) maintained at least a 15-point advantage the rest of the way.
“Braden’s 6-3 and long,” Webb said. ”He has the ability to play inside and out. He definitely likes to compete and brings a lot of energy.”
Along with his game-high point total — built on 11-for-15 shooting — Leadingham chipped in five rebounds, four assists and two steals. He’s enthused about West Carter’s balance.
“We have a lot of guys that can score,” Leadingham said. “We play together and look for each other.”
Tyson Webb had 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Comets despite sitting out most of the second quarter with two fouls. Trace Tackett scored 10 and Evan Jordan provided nine of the team’s 22 points off the bench.
West Carter turned defense into offense, racking up 26 points off turnovers.
“We have some depth and versatility,” Jeremy Webb said. “We changed up our presses, giving them some different looks.”
Fugett paced Menifee County (5-12) with 22 points. Rose and Johnson joined him in double figures with 13 and 11, respectively.
W. CARTER 22 15 21 23 — 81
MENIFEE CO. 13 12 17 14 — 56
West Carter (81) — Callahan 6, Webb 14, Dean 5, B. Leadingham 24, Tackett 10, Jordan 9, G. Leadingham 4, Bond 3, Wilburn 6, PF: 16. Fouled out: None. FT: 11-20. 3-point FGs: 4 (Tackett 2, Webb, Wilburn). Turnovers 12.
Menifee County (56) — Rose 13, Fugett 22, Johnson 11, Clemons 8, Davis 2. PF: 15. Fouled out: Rose. FT: 11-14. 3-point FGs: 7 (Rose 3, Fugettt 4). Turnovers: 22.