By MacKenzie Bates - Sports Editor
Feb. 19, 2014 — The West Carter boys basketball team played in what most considered the biggest game of the year Monday night against Elliott County.
The Lions would build a 20-point lead in the second half only to see West cut it to two with a few minutes remaining. But the Lions would hold on to a 60-55 win over the Comets.
A win by the Comets would have put all four teams inside the 62nd District at 3-3 and would have had a blind draw. Instead, Elliott earned the No. 1 seed and will face the Comets again next week in the District Tournament.
“We weren’t ready to play at the beginning and built ourselves a 20-point deficit for two and a half quarters,” Coach Jeremy Webb said. “We were standing around on both ends of the floor and you can’t do that and expect to win against good teams.”
After Elliott took a 50-30 lead with 2:30 left, the Comets started turning their pressure up and knocking down shots.
“It was all about defensive stops,” Webb said. “We needed them at that time. Once we got a few of those and a few scores, we started building some momentum. That helped us get back in the game.”
“I’m proud of the guys for the way they fought back,” Webb added. “But you can’t get into that kind of hole early on.”
A basket by Ben Jordan cut Elliott’s lead to 50-41 with 6:00 remaining. A bucket by Elliott pushed the lead back to double figures before Jacob Layne hit two straight shots to bring West within seven a 53-46.
A Dalton Spurlock three-point bucket had West within four, part of a 19-3 run beginning late in the third quarter.
“We executed well at the end of the third and into the fourth quarter,” Webb said. “We got ourselves some pretty good looks on the offensive end. I liked our energy level on defense as well during that stretch.”
“They stepped up and started making plays,” Webb said of his seniors. “Dalton played well in the first half and Jacob started playing well in the second half. He made some shots and it was the boost that we needed from him to get ourselves back in the game.”
Spurlock scored a team-high 18 points and Layne added 16.
Trailing again by four with 2:30 to go, Hayden Roe connected on a 17-footer to bring West Carter within two at 55-53, but three big turnovers to end the game, including one with a chance to tie the game late, squandered the Comet comeback.
“Instead of making the fundamental bounce pass, we try to throw it over the defense and it gets deflected out of bounds and it gave them the basketball,” Webb said. “That killed the momentum.”
Up until that point, West did a good job of taking care of the ball in the first half despite 14 turnovers in the first half. They finished with 21 in the game.
Overshadowed by West’s comeback was the performance of Elliott junior Hunter Holbrook. He scored 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc.
“He’s a difficult matchup for anyone with his size and shooting ability,” Webb said. “But we were giving him too many open looks. He knocked them down and he had a fine night. I’m not sure what else we could have done with him.”
West Carter’s three seniors were honored Tuesday night before their game with Ashland. They close out the regular season Friday at Richmond Model.
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.