OLIVE HILL As two of the 16th Region’s top teams, Ashland and West Carter each had a chance to see itself match up against an elite opponent on the opening day of the girls basketball season.
Both squads learned something in the West Carter 63-59 come-from-behind home win.
First-year West Carter coach Faith Conn got reaffirmation of her team’s grit. Ashland bench boss Bill Bradley found some areas that needed improvement.
“Athletically, we can hang with the best of them, but sometimes when shots don’t go in they’ll still play as absolutely hard as they can and there’s nothing more that I could ask for as a coach,” Conn said.
“I thought we missed some shots inside that we normally hit. But, that doesn’t bother me right now,” Bradley said. “The boxing out. They had 39 rebounds, we had 30. They had 15 offensive rebounds. That’s just unacceptable. It’s something that you work on. That’s what we’ll be working on all week.”
The Kittens jumped out to a 19-11 first-quarter lead and stretched the margin to 11 by halftime.
However, the Lady Comets turned the tables in the second half and took the lead when Kallie Burchett sank a pair of free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound 24 seconds into the fourth quarter. The hosts never trailed again.
Conn laid it on the line to her team at halftime.
“We said to them, ‘This third quarter tells the tale. You either come out and you play as hard as you can and you fight back in this game or you come out flat and you lose it,’” she said. “So coming out in that second half, having that absolute desire to win, some girls stepped up for us.”
West Carter out-rebounded Ashland 24-15 in the second half. The Kittens also were just 8-for-17 from the free-throw line, converting just 4-of-10 in the second half.
The Lady Comets took advantage of their foul-shooting opportunities and hit 16-of-20 in the final two quarters.
Allie Stone led all scorers with 23 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds. Ragan Adkins added 12 points and eight boards, while Burchett chipped in nine points and grabbed six boards.
Mikayla Martin paced the Kittens with 19 points and seven rebounds. Morgan Bradley finished with a double-double at 12 points and 14 rebounds.
It was not all doom and gloom for the visitors. Coach Bradley also found several positives from his club.
“I was really pretty pleased overall,” he said. “The biggest thing we wanted to key in on tonight was our turnovers. We had 20 some last week against St. Joe. We only had (credited ourselves) for six tonight and they pressed us the whole game. That’s the biggest plus in the game.”
Ashland 19 13 12 15 - 59
West Carter 11 10 22 20 - 63
Ashland: Miller 6, Bradley 12, Cullop 8, Martin 19, Adkins 7, Sorrell 4, Patel 0, Parker 3. FG 23, 3FG 5 (Miller 2, Cullop, Parker, Adkins), FT 8-17, PF 21, DQ Sorrell, Adkins. Total 59.
West: Adkins 12, Chandler 2, Stone 23, Jordan 4, Gilliam 9, Middleton 3, Burchett 9. FG 19, 3FG 4 (Stone 2, Adkins, Burchett), FT 21-26, PF 14, DQ Gilliam. Total 63.