VANCEBURG – Thursday night was going to be a good indicator of where Lewis County stacked up with one of the top teams in the 16th Region in Ashland Blazer.
For about 14 minutes, they looked like they belonged in the discussion, but a 12-2 run by the Kittens to close out the first half followed by a turnover plagued third quarter doomed the Lady Lions in a 64-45 loss.
“We made some lazy passes and then they smelled blood and attacked us,” Lady Lions coach Jay Fite said. “We lost our composure there for about a minute and a half in the second quarter and then in the third quarter we lost our composure again. We just have to understand to learn to keep playing and step it up a notch.”
Trailing 20-19 after Gracie Yates knocked down a free throw a little over midway through the second quarter, the Kittens closed on a 12-3 run to take a 32-22 lead and cruised from there.
Out of the break, it was Ashland’s Mykasa Robinson, a University of Louisville signee who used her ball pressure defense to create turnover after turnover and Julia Parker’s sharp-shooting from the outside to help create more separation.
“We just tried to pick our defense there in the half which I felt we did better and our offense fed off that a little bit,” Kittens coach Bill Bradley said. “That’s a pretty good 1-2 punch we have, they sucked in there on Robinson a little bit and that freed up Parker quite a bit.”
Robinson, as well as many other Kittens plagued with early foul trouble, recorded four steals in the game changing third while Parker knocked down four of her five 3-pointers in the second half and finished with a game-high 23 points.
Yates tried to help keep the Lady Lions within striking distance with eight points in the third, but those would be the only Lady Lions points in the frame as they went to the fourth trailing 48-30.
The lead blossomed to as big as 23 on a Miranda Martin free throw before Tierra Tully, Payton McGlone and Cheyenne DeSousa were able to get the Lady Lions within 16 at 59-43 before the 64-45 final.
“We’re to the point right now early in the season where I don’t know where everything is going to be coming from exactly. We’re going to keep plugging some girls in there and give them an opportunity and I told them they just need to be ready. Tonight we threw some of them into the fire late and they brought some energy and gave us some bright spots,” Fite said.
Yates led the Lady Lions with 16 points, Allison Voyles got going early in the post with five points, but ended up with just two more to her tally the rest of the way, finishing with seven points and seven rebounds.
“I thought the way we came out showed me that our team is not going to be afraid of people. We battled for a while, had a span in the first half and a bit in the third quarter where they turned it up and we didn’t and that’s just where we’re going to learn,” Fite said.
The Lady Lions (1-1) will look to bounce back on Saturday when they host West Carter for the start of the EKC Tournament. Tip is at 6 p.m.
Ashland, playing in their season opener, will look to go to 2-0 when they play at Boyd County Saturday in what could be a preview of the 16th Region’s top two teams.
Parker led with 23, Robinson added 22 and AJ Johnson scored seven to pace the Kittens.
Robinson, coming off an injury plagued 2016-17 season, gives the Kittens a boost at full strength.
“She was a little excited tonight, I thought she made some bad passes, defensively reached a little too much, but that’s really her first game in nearly two years,” Bradley said. “But she gives us such a boost.”