By MacKenzie Bates - Sports Editor
March 12, 2014 — East Carter Coach Brandon Baker did not know how his team would respond after taking a week to prepare for Ashland in the first round of the 16th Region Tournament.
The Raiders had just won the 62nd District Tournament seven days before meeting the Tomcats at Morehead State University.
The Tomcats got healthy at the right time as senior Nick Miller scored 21 points, 17 in the first half as they ousted the Raiders 59-38 Saturday night.
“They whipped us,” Baker said. “That’s the bottom line. He whipped us in the first half and then they had three or four guys whip us in the second half. There’s no sugar coating it.”
East Carter (15-14) had a bad shooting night, going 14-of-49 (28.6 percent) from the floor, including 17.9 percent in the second half.
While having to play catch up for most of the night, Baker said his team had to play through another opponent rather than Ashland.
“Fatigue gave us fits and we were just wore out,” Baker said. “From the second quarter on, I thought we would get our second wind and get our legs back under us but it never did happen. That’s what led to poor decisions and we just couldn’t get hot.”
When the game plan in the second half was to collapse on Miller defensively, it opened up the scoring for other Tomcats like Damantie Thornton, who scored all 13 of his points in the second half. Ashland shot 21-of-37 from the field, almost 57 percent of their baskets went through the net.
“Ashland kept the hammer down and that’s what good teams are supposed to do,” Baker said.
East led 14-11 after one quarter, coming out with a lot of energy in the opening period on a layup by Evan Brooks. Ashland and East would trade baskets in the second period, with East taking a one-point lead on a Bradles Marsh lay in.
Ashland would then score the last eight points of the half to take a 28-21 lead in to halftime. The Tomcat run would continue to 32-21 off a Thornton basket.
The Raiders clawed back in it on a Connor Greene layup at 34-28. But the Tomcats would put the game away, scoring seven straight points and holding East scoreless for more than three minutes.
“Ashland caused us to have a very tough night,” Baker said. “We knew coming in we were going to have to have a lot of guys play well and they didn’t allow that to happen.”
Greene led East Carter with 16 points.
Cole Brammer, Qua Davis, Bradley and Seth Marsh will hang up the sneakers, playing their final game for East in the regional tournament.
“This night doesn’t define who this team was,” Baker said. “They raised the bar for East Carter basketball and didn’t accept the perception coming into the season that a lot of people thought they were. They made the best season out of it that they could. They had two big wins in the district tournament. They’re 62nd District champs, and I’m proud of them for that.”
While the season ends, Baker is still excited for what the future holds for the Raiders.
“We’ve got something to build a team around and we have some young guys we will have in there to mix in,” Baker said. “We have some potential to get back here next season.”
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.