After three days of play in the 16th Region basketball Tournament, Ashland, Raceland, Morgan and Rowan are still alive on the girls' side; while East and Ashland advanced to the semifinals in the boys' draw. Action continues tonight with Elliott facing Greenup and Rose Hill squaring off with Rowan at MSU's Ellis T. Johnson Arena.

Ashland Paul Blazer defeated West Carter 48-38 and Raceland held off Bath County 43-37 as all four teams struggled shooting the ball in MSU's Wetherby Gym on Monday's opening night of 16th Region girls' basketball Tournament action.

Ashland (23-4) overcame a slow offensive start to down West Carter (10-16). The Lady Comets led most of the first quarter, but Raceland came back to tie it at 6-6 by the end of the period. Ashland took control from there and held the Lady Comets to just two second-quarter points in opening a 15-8 halftime advantage. Both teams found their offensive groove in the second half, but Ashland was able to extend its lead to 34-19 at the end of the third quarter. West Carter matched its scoring output from the first three quarters with a 19-point final period. Laisha Ward led the Kittens with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Monica Stevens paced the Lady Comets with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Both teams struggled shooting the ball from all areas of the court, including the free-throw line where the two teams combined to hit 13-of-34 foul shots.

Ashland coach Bill Bradley on the win over West Carter

Did you have problems shooting in Wetherby Gym?

“Maybe just a little bit. We played in the big gym here on campus last year and shot fine. It’s the same kind of background. We had a good practice yesterday and shot the ball well during practice. I think it was just one of those things, we were just a little tight. I think we will shoot a lot better the next game.”

What was the key to victory?

“No question our half court defense in the first half. It’s what I have been stressing all year. We locked them up pretty good in the first half. They only had eight points in the first half, which is tremendous on our part. If we had shot anything at all, I think we would have been in pretty good shape. I give them credit; they came back. Lucky for us because we played such good half court defense in the first half, that’s what won the game for us, I think.”

Bath County (9-19) jumped out to an early lead in the second game. The Lady Cats led Raceland (19-12) 12-7 at the end of the first period, but the Lady Rams stormed back in the second quarter to take a 24-20 halftime advantage. The resilient Lady Cats continued to battle the taller Lady Rams and moved ahead 30-29 by the end of the third quarter. Bath County led (37-35) as late as with 3:19 to play in the game, but Booke Keeton took control from there and Raceland scored the game's final eight points to pull out the win. Keeton finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while teammate Kasey Lewis had 11 points and 16 rebounds. Chelsea Razor paced Bath County with 14 points, four rebounds and four steals. Raceland used its hight to grab a 43-28 edge in rebounding, including collecting 22 on the offensive end.

Rowan County and Morgan County each earned victories on Tuesday night in second-day play at the 16th Regional Tournament at Morehead State's Wetherby Gym. The Lady Vikings doubled up Boyd County, 56-28, while the Lady Cougars escaped Russell, 33-31.

No. 18-ranked Rowan County (25-5) was the only team in the field to score more than 50 points as the Lady Vikings forced 31 turnovers to roll over Boyd County (13-14). The Lady Vikings took a 16-4 lead in the first quarter and extended it to 37-11 by halftime. By the end of the third period, Rowan County had scored more points than any team in the tournament with its 50-18 lead. Boyd County had its best scoring effort in the final period, out-scoring Rowan County, 10-6. With no player seeing more than 16 minutes of action, the Lady Vikings had a balanced offensive effort. Nicole Barr led the team with 11 points and 14 of the 15 Lady Vikings to see the floor grabbed at least one rebound. Holly Jude led Boyd County with five points and four rebounds. Rowan County shot 41.3 percent from the field, while the Lady Lions converted just 19.4 percent. The Lady Vikings also had 10 more rebounds than Boyd County (44-34).

Morgan County (19-9) played just well enough to get past Russell (17-11) in the opening game. Russell senior Samantha Sparks had a chance to tie the score, but missed a pair of free throws with no time on the clock. The score was tied at 11-11 at the end of the first period and Russell held a 17-13 edge at halftime. Morgan County took control in the second half by out-scoring the Red Devils 12-5 in the third quarter. Neither team held greater than a four-point lead the entire game. Leslie Eagle's steal and layup gave Morgan County a 33-30 advantage with 48 seconds to play. Russell added a free throw with 17 seconds left to close within one. Sparks was fouled taking a 3-pointer, but the game was stopped after she missed her second free throw. Eagle led the Lady Cougars with 12 points and five steals. Hannah Fugate added 11 points and five rebounds. Kelsey Simpson finished with 10 points and nine rebounds to lead Russell. The Lady Devils out-rebounded the Lady Cougars 34-27, but turned the ball over 10 more times (17 to seven) and made only 5-of-13 foul shots.

Friday night's girls' semifinals will feature Ashland Paul Blazer (23-4) meeting Raceland (19-12) in the first game at 6:30 p.m., with Rowan County (25-5) facing Morgan County (19-9) at 8:15 p.m.

Ashland Paul Blazer and East Carter came out on top in first-day action of the 16th Region Boys' Basketball Tournament on Tuesday night at Morehead State University's Ellis T. Johnson Arena. The Tomcats slipped past Bath County, 51-46 and East Carter ran over Raceland, 68-42.

Ashland Paul Blazer (14-16) used its defensive prowess to hold Bath County (20-5) to 30.6 percent shooting from the field and just 1-for-10 from the 3-point line as the Tomcats slipped past the Wildcats 51-46 in a first-round upset in the opening game. Bath County led nearly the entire way until Matt Thomas’ jumper with 54 seconds left. Will Skaggs sealed the victory by hitting 5-of-6 free throws in the final 39 seconds. The Wildcats led 11-9 after the first quarter and by nine at halftime (28-19). Ashland rallied in the second half, out-scoring the Wildcats 16-10 in the third quarter and 16-8 in the fourth. Danny Coleman led the victors with 12 points and five rebounds, while Ryan Bonner had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Chris Johnson came off the bench to record nine points and 10 rebounds. Blandon Clemons had 21 points, six assists and five rebounds in his final game for the Wildcats. Taylor Maze added 12 points and five rebounds, and Zak Metz collected 21 rebounds to go along with nine points. Bath County held a 49-43 rebounding edge, but was whistled for nine more fouls (24 to 15). Shooting just 43.8 percent from the free-throw line also hurt the Wildcats.

East Carter (23-7) jumped out to a 17-8 first-quarter lead and never looked back as the Raiders routed Raceland (19-11) 68-42 in the nightcap. East Carter pushed its lead up to 24 points in the second half, before taking a 36-15 advantage at the half. The Raiders shot 57.7 percent from the field in the first 16 minutes, while the Rams connected on just 19 percent of their attempts. Raceland out-scored the Raiders 12-9 in the third quarter, and closed to within 14 points 45 seconds into the fourth period, but the Raiders finished the game on a 10-3 run to cap off the 26-point victory. Drew Johnson made 9-of-10 shots from the field for a game-high 25 points to lead East Carter. Kyle Bair added 15 points and six rebounds. Tyler Boyles paced Raceland with 14 points and seven rebounds. East Carter finished with a distinct advantage in shooting from the field (51.1 percent to 24.0 percent) and rebounding (41 to 30). The Raiders also held a 32-16 edge in points in the paint.

Coach Brandon Baker on the win over Raceland

On the key to the win

“We just challenged our players to mentally focus and prepare themselves to compete every possession on both ends (of the floor). I thought we were just mentally sharp. That always makes the physical part of the game a little easier, any time you are ready to compete. I just thought we had that edge on us to get out there and get after it and be the aggressor. I thought whoever came out aggressive and got the ball to the basket and really played assertive offensively was going to make the game a little easier for themselves. We were fortunate enough for that to happen tonight.”

On the difference between this meeting and the last (a 64-48 loss at Raceland on Feb. 12).

“I just think we were mentally focused to compete (tonight) and credit Raceland the previous game we played, they are a good team. They are a really good team and they really took it to us and they played harder than we did. They just played better than we did and they put a whipping on us. You have to credit them for that game, but I think that got stuck in the back of our players’ heads and they wanted to redeem themselves. That kind of was our driving force. I didn’t have to get their attention. That previous game already had their attention and we were ready to get after them.”

Action continues tonight with Elliott County (23-3) facing Greenup County (8-20) at 6:30 p.m. and Rose Hill Christian (18-10) squaring off with Rowan County (8-16) at 8:15 p.m. at MSU's Ellis T. Johnson Arena.

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