MOREHEAD – The final two quarters of postseason games have not been kind to Lewis County.
The Lions surrendered a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter of the 63rd District final against Raceland last Friday, eventually falling, 52-50.
On Thursday, turnovers to start the second half against Rowan County set the tone for the rest of the game and the Vikings were able to come back for a 49-43 win in the 16th Region quarterfinals.
“I think the three turnovers that started that third quarter disrupted our rhythm,” said Lewis County coach Joe Hampton. “You can’t start the half of a big game like that like we did.”
Lewis County pulled out in front by as many as six points in the first quarter, but Rowan County closed the quarter with buckets from Clay Sizemore and Brady Madden to cut the Lions’ lead to two.
The Lions held onto a one-point lead at 24-23 at the half, behind scoring from seven different players, led by Tay Offut’s eight points.
Lewis County started the second half with three turnovers and Rowan County was able to grind out possessions, taking the lead with 5:25 remaining in the third quarter on a turnaround shot from Brady Madden and extending it to five on layups from Tyler Gardner and Tate Johnson.
“I think we talked about some things we didn’t do right in the first half against some of the stuff they were running. I went to a coaching clinic with Denny Crum speaking and he was talking about the 2-3 and he was talking about – he says, ‘People may have 100 sets to run against your man. They’re only going to have four or five things they can do against that zone. If you figure out a way to solve what they’re doing to you, then you’ve got them,’” said Rowan County coach Shawn Thacker. “For us, it controls the pace of the game. It’s tournament basketball. I was talking to a coach the other day and I said that sometimes you try to speed the thing up early, but the game is going to dictate when it gets sped up – when the team gets behind and has to go press and do some things.”
The Lions got their only points of the frame on a basket from Tay Offut with 3:13 until the fourth quarter, but Madden extended the lead back to five with another layup on the way to his career-high 26 points.
“He [Madden] shoots 60-some percent from the field. We’re putting things in for him now a little more,” said Thacker. “We’re getting to where we can run plays. When I played Boyd County at Boyd County, we couldn’t run no plays. I felt like I couldn’t help them. We’ve came so far – not that we’re phenomenal at a lot of things - but we’re good at the certain things that we can do to win games. Monster game. I thought he kept us in it in the first half, then he put a couple nails in the coffin in the second half.”
Rowan County’s lead hit double digits with 5:14 to play after starting the fourth quarter with five straight points, before Cameron Ruckel finished a shot while getting fouled with 4:28 to play. He made the free throw to make it 36-29.
“You can’t press if you don’t score. We had the ball where we wanted it a couple of times in that press and failed to rotate off the back of that trap to make the steal that we worked on hard this week. It eventually ran us out of it because we weren’t making those rotations and they were getting some baskets on the back side of it. That was the first half,” said Hampton. “In the second half we couldn’t even thinking about pressing because we couldn’t score.”
With a layup and two free throws from Madden, the Vikings extended the lead to 11 points at 40-29, their largest of the night.
The Lions attempted to battle back, but went just 7-of-14 from the free throw line in the final frame.
“You’ve got to score from the line. We failed to do that. We missed 11 free throws,” said Hampton. “You make six of those, half of those – you make half of your misses, just half of them it gives us a chance to be in this game and then we’re not fouling, so who knows what it’d been?”
A 3-pointer from Offut got Lewis County back within five at 44-39, before two free throws from Noah Tansil. Bryce Wallingford knocked down 1-of-2 from the charity stripe with 39 seconds left, and Johnson answered with a free throw of his own at the other end. Offut knocked down his second triple of the frame to make it 47-43, but the Lions wouldn’t get any closer.
Lewis County went just 14-of-47 from the field and 4-of-25 from beyond the arc in the game. The Lions shot 11-of-22 from the free throw line.
Behind Madden’s 26 points was Sizemore with seven and Tyler Gardner, Ryan Mullen and Tansil with four each. Rowan County improves to 17-14 and will return to Johnson Arena on Monday for a 16th Region semifinal game against Boyd County.
Offut led Lewis County with 21 points, while Seth Wright had seven and Ruckel added five. The Lions finish the season at 18-15. They had three seniors on their roster – Offut, Byron Stone and Wallingford.
BOYD COUNTY 59, ELLIOTT COUNTY 55
There will be a new champion crowned in the 16th Region.
Boyd County scored the first bucket of the game and hung on throughout to knock off Elliott County, 59-55, in the 16th Region quarterfinals at Morehead State University’s Johnson Arena on Thursday.
Taylor Smith opened the contest with a 3-pointer, before Boyd County closed out the quarter with a one-point advantage at 14-13.
The Lions from Boyd County were able to extend the lead to eight in the second quarter, but following a timeout from Elliott County coach Greg Adkins, his Lions went on a 7-0 run started by a 3-pointer from Gage Evans. The two finished the frame with Boyd County leading, 28-27.
Elliott County tied the game, 44-44, with 1:25 remaining in the third quarter, but Gunner Short finished the final four points of the frame to give Boyd County a 48-44 lead heading into the fourth.
Elliott County was able to get within a point of Boyd County once in the fourth on another 3-pointer from Evans, before Boyd County knocked down free throws to close out the win.
Evans finished with 22 points to lead Elliott County, while Kole Whitley had 14 and Tanner Dickerson had 10. The Lions finish the season at 11-14.
Boyd County was led by Blake Stewart and Smith, who finished with 14 points each. Short added 13 for the Lions, who improve to 27-6 and will take on Rowan County in Monday’s second semifinal at Morehead State.