Russell senior guard Kyle Skaggs could have stayed in Flatwoods instead of going to Monday's game at Lewis County.
The Red Devils’ leading scorer wore his charcoal gray travel outfit to Lewis County Middle School and sometimes chatted with teammate Jacob Smith and others instead, and things were just fine. A 27-4 run over the second and third quarters and senior guard Jacob Porter’s career-high 26 points were plenty for a 73-46 victory.
Monday was also the latest stop in Russell's (21-6) special season. The Red Devils are 12-2 over their last 14 games, and coach Merle Kidwell is watching his team's first 20-win campaign since the 2007 team won the 63rd District, reached the 16th Region semifinals and finished with a 27-5 record.
“That's been one of our goals since I've been here, is to get 20 wins,” Porter said. “This year it's a special group of guys, and we've achieved our goal — 20 wins.”
Russell coach Merle Kidwell talked about a certain pair of cartoon superheroes.
“Jacob's kind of been Robin to Kyle Skaggs' Batman,” Kidwell said. “(Porter) had to be Batman (on Monday). He carried us; Jacob has ability to do that.”
Skaggs sat out last night and will miss tonight’s game against West Carter with an injured left big toe he hurt last Friday against Greenup County.
“It could be broken, maybe not,” Skaggs said. “It could be a strong sprain.”
Skaggs also said he would like to play against Fleming County Friday in Flemingsburg, but he's not going to push things.
“Right now, we've secured the No. 1 seed (in the 63rd District tournament),” Skaggs said. “You don't want it to be one of those lingering issues.”
Russell led by just 20-13 just 90 seconds into the second quarter when Porter converted senior center Lance Evans' steal, and the Lions later closed to 22-21 on an 8-2 streak led by junior guard Brett Ruckel's six points (he led Lewis County with 16).
Porter then started Lewis County's nightmare by draining two 3-pointers from the left side; the second converted a Ramsey Mullins steal and featured a fake to throw off a Lewis County defender.
After Ruckel scored with 54 seconds left before intermission, nothing Lewis County tried to do to contain Porter worked in the third stanza; he scored on senior guard Googie Hayes' two assists and had seven points a little more than a minute, but it was his assist to junior forward Johnny McGuire that had Red Devil fans screaming.
Porter actually made a mistake; he was in midair under Russell's basket with no one nearby. He saw Hayes in the right corner, but fired a no-look pass to McGuire (16 points) in the lane, who made the bucket.
“I was just trying to find an open man,” Porter said. “They always say don't leave your feet when you're passing, but I got caught underneath the rim. I looked at Googie … I just saw a maroon jersey moving in my peripheral (vision), so I just floated it to him real quick.”
McGuire didn't know what he was expecting, but he thought it would be good … “Because whether I'm open or someone else is open, the guards are good enough to see it, and they will get it to the open man.”
By the time Lewis County (11-11) scored again on Sammy Holder's two free throws a little less than three minutes into the third quarter — Russell 49, Lions 25. Porter and McGuire scored again, and Mullins added a free throw in the final two minutes.
“Our effort wasn't there, our focus wasn't there, it didn't look like we had a lot of desire,” Lewis County coach Joe Hampton said. “As a coach, as a coaching staff, I'm somewhat embarrassed to play that way in front of our home crowd.”
After the game, Kidwell couldn't decide whether he or his team is enjoying the season most.
“It's kind of a team effort,” Kidwell said. “They're a fun bunch to coach. I'm not up pacing the sidelines as much; they know what we want.”
RUSSELL 14 18 22 19 — 73
LEWIS CO. 13 10 6 17 — 46
Russell (73): Hayes 4, Lane 7, Evans 7, Porter 26, Tackett 2, Smith 3, D. Campbell 2, McGuire 16, Miller 3.
Lewis Co. (46): Davis 4, Walker 10, Adams 2, Ruckel 16, Parker 4, Holder 6, Weddington 2, G. Keibler 2, Ripato 0.
Free throws: R 19-31; LC 16-21. 3-pointers: R 4 (Porter 2, Lane, Miller); LC 2 (Walker, Parker). Team fouls: R 24, LC 23.