With its top scorer on the bench with foul trouble, Ashland needed leadership. The Tomcats got it from senior Logan Salow.
Salow scored 15 points in the second quarter, and a game-high 22, to lead Ashland over district rival Fairview 73-60 Saturday night at Fairview High School.
With leading scorer Dikembe Dixson on the bench with foul trouble for most of the first half, Salow said his team kept finding him open so he felt he had to deliver.
“The guys were giving me the ball in places where I could shoot,” Salow said. “That was really the big key. I was the one knocking down the shots, but they were the ones who were getting me open.”
Salow finished the first half 6 of 8 from the floor and a perfect 2 of 2 from 3- point range. With Dixson picking up his second foul early, Ashland coach Buddy Biggs said Salow’s shooting was the key to keeping the Tomcats in the game.
“It’s almost like he knew that our two big guys were on the bench, that he had to step up his game,” Biggs said. “And he did and I give him credit for it. That’s what a senior leader should do and he did it.”
The first half saw Ashland struggle with an aggressive and athletic Fairview team that was with Ashland every step of the way.
Fairview shot over 58 percent in the first half, which helped the Eagles stay in the game despite their first-half turnovers.
They gave the ball away 19 times in the first half, but still held a 34-34 tie at the midway point of the game.
“If you told me that before the game I would have said you’re crazy,” Fairview coach Derek Cooksey said. “Our kids know we can play with anyone in our district on any given night and we’re getting better.”
Fairview had a big night from the King brothers, Elijah and Isaiah. Sophomore Isaiah King led the Eagles in scoring with 19 points, including hitting key 3-pointers in the first half to stay with the Tomcats.
Elijah King, who is now the only senior Fairview player, had 15 points, eight rebounds and five steals, including a steal and a layup to tie the game at halftime.
“Their effort every single night is very good,” Cooksey said. “Elijah has become the team leader on our squad...and he did a great job on Dikembe. I thought Isaiah was great in the first half, but hats off to Ashland because they focused on him in the second half.”
After Ashland (15-8) escaped with a one-point win the last time it played Fairview (10-9), Biggs said the first three quarters of Saturday’s game show how scary Fairview can be.
“(Fairview) is a dangerous basketball team,” Biggs said. “Those King kids our tough to guard. We went zone for a majority of the game because we were afraid we couldn’t contain them off the dribble and when we were man they blew right by us.”
With Ashland leading by only one heading into the fourth quarter though, Dixson finally exploded for the Tomcats.
Dixson scored 15 points in the second half and finished the game with 17. He added 10 rebounds to get his 10th double-double on the season.
After playing just over three minutes in the first half, the 6-foot-6 sophomore imposed his will on the smaller Fairview team.
“He’s a mismatch problem for most high school teams,” Biggs said. “He’s so long and athletic and does a good job of driving the basketball. And lately he’s been doing a better job of pitching forward and passing the ball. When he does that he’s a dangerous player.”
Nick Miller added 13 points for Ashland (15-8). The Tomcats are tied in the district with Boyd County at 4-1, with Ashland playing Rose Hill and Boyd County playing Fairview.
And along with Rose Hill, Ashland has seven games remaining before the start of postseason play. For Salow the best is still to come for his team.
“We’re not where I think we can be,” Salow said. “And we’re not where coach thinks we can be either. All of us, we don’t think we’re good as we can be but we’re getting there. This three-game stint we want to carry it into next week and we want three more wins.”
After losing a hard-fought game to unbeaten Fairland earlier in the day, Ashland decided to let everyone have a shot against Fairview on Saturday night.
Haley Sue Foutch led all scorers with 15 points, while Sydney Cullop added 12.
Everyone on the Ashland (15-5) roster saw extended minutes, including eighth-grader Mykassa Robinson. The youngest Kitten scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers.
Fairview (9-10) was led by Brittany Bell who scored nine.
ASHLAND 23 21 16 6 — 66
FAIRVIEW 7 7 12 5 — 31
Ashland (66) — Gambill 7, A. Robinson 4, Foutch 15, Cullop 12, Gunter 2, Jones 4, Layne 5, M. Robinson 10, Gransberry 3, Vanover 4, Hammond. FT: 4-8. 3-PT FG: 4 (Gambill, Layne, M. Robinson 2).
Fairview (31) — McPeek 4, Mac. Humphrey 7, Adkins 1, Meeks 4, Mad. Humphrey 2, Bell 9, Bohanna 2, Reynolds 2, Mounts, Thompson, Burton, Fraley. FT: 4-10. 3-PT FG: 1 (Mac. Humphrey).