The Ashland coaching staff has been trying to get point guard Alexis Robinson to look for her shot more. No better time to do so than against rival Boyd County.
In a rematch of the past two 16th Region championship games, Ashland defeated Boyd County 61-44 on Saturday night at Anderson Gym.
Robinson scored 22 points, going 9 of 16 from the floor. She committed a few miscues because she’s not used to being the scoring focus of the team.
“We’ve stressed instead of distributing so much, we want her to score more,” said Ashland coach Bill Bradley. “She had some turnovers tonight because she’s not used to it ... but the way she shot the ball tonight, we’ll take that every night.”
The sophomore guard found her way into the lane for some layups and floaters, but an aspect she’s not necessarily known for is her long-range shooting.
On Saturday she hit three step-back 3-pointers with a Boyd County defender in her face each time.
“She was the best player on the floor times-two tonight,” said Boyd County coach Pete Fraley. “She is very good and when she’s knocking down that three-ball it’s even tougher.”
For Robinson, though, the tough thing about the game was getting into a shoot-first mentality.
“I’m more of a pass-first player,” Robinson said. “I was getting a little more confidence as the game went on. So hopefully I’ll play the rest of the season like I did tonight.”
Ashland (4-0) got off to an 8-0 run to start the game, and limited Boyd County to just six points in the first quarter.
Boyd County (3-1) shot just 2 of 11 in the first quarter, and shot just better than 33 percent for the game.
“They did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do,” Fraley said. “That’s a credit to (Bradley). They scouted us, they’ve been to every game we played and I tip my hat to them. They got the first one.”
What Bradley wanted his team to do was take out Boyd County’s main scoring threats in Taylor Wheeler and Logan Fraley.
Wheeler had 12 points in the game, just four in the second half. Fraley had five points and shot just 1 of 11 from the field.
“We came out ready to play especially our defense on Fraley, who’s a great player,” Bradley said. “And the job Sydney Cullop did on Wheeler. Wheeler is a hard-nosed player, and Syd could be our hard-nosed player too. I thought Syd’s job on Wheeler was a huge key to the game.”
Allie Slone added 13 points for the Kittens, including going 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.
Boyd County also had a big game from point guard Emily Stewart who added 11 points, including going 9 of 13 from the free throw line.
In total, there were 59 free throws shot in the game on 41 total fouls. Bradley said the increased trips to the line are due to a KHSAA mandate of calling more fouls.
“That’s something we have to adjust to,” he said. “Referees and the teams also. We’ll adjust to it and get used to it.”
For Ashland, Saturday’s win is its fifth straight over Boyd County. It comes at a prime time as the Kittens’ upcoming stretch of games includes Ironton, East Carter and a trip to the Republic Bank Classic in Lexington.
“I’m glad we were at home the first game,” Bradley said. “Us, Boyd and East have been ranked one, two and three since the beginning. So it’s good to get a win against one of them.”
For Boyd County the road is not easy either. After a matchup with Rose Hill on Monday, the Lady Lions take on the No. 1 team in West Virginia Class A in Huntington St. Joe on Friday.
Fraley admits he didn’t do his team any favors when making the schedule.
“We’ll learn more from this game tonight than anything,” Fraley said. “It’s good to play them now ... they exploit a lot of our weaknesses, so we’ll go back and work on those weaknesses. I’d rather do that now and work to get better, and we will get better.”
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.