Ashland’s girls aren’t alone.
The Kittens became the 39th straight regular season opponent to fall at the collective hands of Fairland, 57-47, on Saturday afternoon in the Ironton Hall of Fame Showcase at Ironton High School.
Fairland’s match-up zone defense became problematic for Ashland early as the Kittens went just 2 of 16 from the floor in the first quarter and trailed 15-5 after one.
The Lady Dragons pounded the ball inside to Terra Stapleton, their 6-foot-4 junior center, frequently in the first half. The Minnesota commit racked up 20 of her 25 game-high points in the initial 16 minutes. She hit nine of her 13 first-half shots, while Ashland was 7 of 28 as a team in the same time frame. Stapleton also posted 14 rebounds.
“Missing shots got us down a little bit, but we’ve got to get over that,” said Ashland coach Bill Bradley. “I don’t think we went totally after it in the first half. They outworked us early.”
Ashland (14-5) was in the rare situation of playing one of two games on the day — the Kittens traveled to Fairview later in the evening. They were also without starter Allie Slone (knee).
Bradley decided against making excuses, though. Instead, he questioned a coaching move, or lack thereof.
“I probably should’ve gone to (the 1-3-1 defense) earlier,” said Bradley, who elected to go with a man-to-man look for the entire first half. “But we had just put it in this week.”
The 1-3-1 helped the Kittens claw back to cut the deficit to 49-45 with 4:58 to go. Then, after forcing one of Fairland’s 18 turnovers, they missed a chance to trim it closer.
“As a defense, we know we can run that now, at least,” Bradley said. “It was very effective.”
Chandler Fulks took advantage, draining her third 3-pointer to expand Fairland’s lead and give the Lady Dragons enough separation to close out a 10-point win.
Bradley pointed to the forgettable first quarter as the difference. The Kittens turned it over several times early, tallying 10 first-half miscues, but ended up with just 13.
“We stopped dribbling around so much,” Bradley said. “Our ball movement really helped us cut it to four ... The bottom line is we shot bad early.”
Kaylyn Gambill scored a team-best 16 points for Ashland. The senior guard caught fire in the third quarter — she splashed in a pair of 3-pointers in the closing two minutes of the period, prompting Fairland coach Jon Buchanan to interrogate his team heading into the fourth.
“How many 3-pointers are you going to allow No. 20 to take before you go out and guard her?” he asked.
Sydney Cullop chipped in nine points and eight rebounds for the Kittens. Sophomore standouts Alexis Robinson and Haley Sue Foutch were held at bay, combining for only 14 points.
For Fairland, Stapleton proved too much to overcome, even with a scoreless fourth period.
Stapleton used a nice spin move, both to her left and right, in the paint several times as she accounted for the Lady Dragons’ first eight points and 16 of their first 19.
“Our girls have a good understanding of if we get the ball to Terra early, that’s going to open it up for us later,” Buchanan said. “You make that defense kinda sag, and now I’m going to be open for a three or whatever it is. We’re maturing, understanding that.”
Fairland (15-0) defeated Rock Hill last week for its second consecutive Ohio Valley Conference title. The Lady Dragons, a region semifinalist a year ago, are currently ranked in the top 10 in Division III.
Buchanan said he didn’t exactly envision this type of run taking shape.
“We never make a schedule to go undefeated,” he said. “Obviously, if you’re playing a team like Ashland, you’re trying to challenge yourself. Our kids are just doing a good job of rising to whatever kind of team they’re playing.”
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.
Ashland’s girls aren’t alone.
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Locals struggle to make impact
Some days you are the windshield and some days you are the bug.
It is a saying that proved to be all too true for Rowan County on Friday night at the KHSAA Class 2A State Track and Field Championships at the University of Louisville’s Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park.
Fairview senior Kennedy Womack wasn’t her consistent self in Saturday morning’s state tennis semifinals at the University of Kentucky’s Hilary Boone Tennis Complex.
As a result, the top seed fell to Lexington Sayre sophomore Madeline Rolph 6-1, 6-0.
Womack was obviously disappointed with her finish, especially after losing in last year’s state finals, but she was happy for her good friend Rolph.
If Fairview could have fielded a combined track and field team at Saturday’s Class A State Track and Field Championships, the Eagles and Lady Eagles would have had a record day. Instead, the Fairview girls had to “settle” for fifth, while the boys’ claimed 10th.
Womack eliminated in semifinals
Top-seeded Kennedy Womack was eliminated in the semifinals of the State Tournament on Saturday at the University of Kentucky tennis courts.
It looked for a while that a questionable call may have determined the outcome of the game, but in the end, it was just an afterthought.
Boyd County finds senior spark
Losers of four straight, Boyd County was searching for something positive Friday night before beginning postseason play Monday night.
Doubles teams head to semis at state tourney
With rain staying away, the KHSAA State Tennis Tournament got into full swing on Friday afternoon.
Semifinals and finals will be held today at the University of Kentucky Boone/Downing Tennis Complex for boys and girls singles competitions.
McKnight hurdling to Georgetown
Fairview’s Paige McKnight is known for jumping hurdles. She cleared a pretty big one on Thursday.
In front of friends and family at Fairview Elementary School, McKnight signed a letter of intent to run track for Georgetown College.
Several area schools will be represented at State Track and Field championships
Local track and field athletes are ready to try to carry region competition success onto the state stage.
Several area schools will be represented at this weekend’s State Track and Field championships at the University of Louisville. The Class 2A meet is set for today at 3:15 p.m. and Class A competition is scheduled to begin on Saturday at 8:15 a.m.
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