Rebels fall in KHSAA quarterfinals; Ashland Blazer dominates Boyle, 80-54
By MIKE MARSEE
LEXINGTON — It was a game to forget at the end of a season to remember.
The final game of the season began badly and never got better for Boyle County, as Ashland Blazer knocked the Rebels out of the Boys Sweet Sixteen with a surprising rout.
Ashland used a dominant defense and deadly shooting to blast Boyle 80-44 in a state tournament quarterfinal Friday at Rupp Arena.
It was over in a matter of minutes, as the Tomcats scored 17 of the first 21 points to build a double-digit lead that was never threatened. Most of the second half was played with a running clock in the first mercy rule game of this year’s tournament.
“We just got beat by a team that played lights out tonight,” Boyle coach Dennie Webb said.
“They shot it well, they played defense well, so hats off to Ashland. They just wore us out tonight.”
Boyle (22-5) trailed by 16 points after one quarter and by 30 points at halftime after scoring only eight points in each of the first two periods.
The Rebels, who scored 70 points in their first-round win over Paintsville and were averaging 66.8 per game, finished with their lowest point total of the season in what appears to be only their second running-clock defeat since the 35-point mercy rule was adopted in the 2012-13 season.
“The outcome of tonight hurts, obviously,” Webb said. “It’s disappointing and to a certain degree a little embarrassing, but we’re going to get over that because there’s nothing to be ashamed of what these guys did.”
Ashland (22-4) had used its defense to dismantle Knox Central in the first half of its first-round game, and the Tomcats did the same to Boyle, aggressively pursuing the ball and turning turnovers into points.
“To be honest, they did to us what we’ve been doing to people — or what we’ve tried to do to people,” Webb said.
The Rebels went 6 for 21 from the field in the first half, and they committed 12 turnovers that led to 22 Ashland points.
“I knew that we had to get some stops and set some pace with our play in order for it to be an up-tempo game, and that’s exactly what happened,” Ashland coach Jason Mays said. “I think our pressure sort of took them out of their offense, and they just never really got into a flow.”
The Tomcats complemented their work on defense with deadly accurate shooting. They were 7 for 10 from 3-point range and 16 for 27 overall from the field in the first half, and they hit 10 of 17 3-point shots and shot 61 percent for the game.
“We ran into a heck of a team,” Boyle guard Jagger Gillis said. “They did it on both ends of the ball, offense and defense. I’d like to see a team stop them. They’re a heck of a team.”
Webb said the Ashland team that manhandled Boyle and Knox on successive days was much better than the team he saw on film.
“They’ve taken it to another level. They’re playing really hard,” he said. “I thought our guys were ready. They just shell-shocked us. They came at us, ripping the ball from us.
“I don’t think it was a lack of effort on our guys’ part. It was just one of those games where nothing we did went right, and a lot of that is attributed to Ashland.”
Four Ashland players scored in double figures, led by Ethan Sellars and Cole Villars with 20 points each. Sellars was 4 for 4 from 3-point range and Zander Carter, who had 18 points, was 4 for 5.
Colin Porter had 11 points, six assists and four steals for the Tomcats, who had assists on 17 of their 28 baskets.
Boyle had only three assists and finished with 17 turnovers, and the Rebels were outrebounded 27-19.
Luke Imfeld led Boyle with 12 points. Luke Sheperson had nine points and three blocked shots, and he was named as Boyle’s representative on the all-tournament team after compiling 34 points and 13 rebounds in two games.
Ashland’s Mays said the Tomcats used their speed to counter Boyle’s physical style of play.
“You have to beat them up and down the floor,” he said. “You’ve got to be better at 84 feet and not let them be better in 20-foot spaces. You’ve got to limit them to one shot.”
Sheperson said Ashland’s speed gave the Rebels fits.
“Defensively they were flying everywhere, and they pushed the ball,” Sheperson said. “They were a good team.”
Ashland scored 12 straight points in less than 2 1/2 minutes to take a 17-4 lead. It was 29-10 after an 8-0 run early in the second quarter that featured consecutive 3s by Sellars and Villars, and it was 46-16 at halftime after Porter scored all 11 of his points in the final 4:07.
The Tomcats opened the second half with six straight points to go up 52-16 and activate the running-clock rule with 6:37 left in the third quarter.
Boyle’s shooting improved in the second half, when it went 13 for 23 from the field. But the Rebels never got closer than 32 points and trailed by as many as 43.
Webb began emptying his bench in the fourth quarter. Everyone on the Boyle roster played at least three minutes, and seven of the 10 reserves scored, led by Dalton Stone with five points.
The lopsided loss brought the curtain down on a season in which Boyle got off to one of the best starts in school history with wins in 13 of its first 14 games and rebounded to win the 12th
Region championship after losing in the 45th District final. It was the only district runner-up in this year’s Sweet Sixteen field.
The Rebels won a state tournament game for only the second time in five appearances before Ashland sent them packing.
“We’ll get over that and we’ll step back and look at what we’ve done this year,” Webb said.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and when we get over this one we’ll see that (and take) a lot of pride in what we’ve done.”
KHSAA Boys Sweet Sixteen
ASHLAND BLAZER (22-4) — Colin Porter 5-9 0-0 11, Ethan Sellars 6-9 4-4 20, Cole Villers 7-10 5-5 20, Zander Carter 6-8 2-2 18, Sean Marcum 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Atkins 0-1 1-2 1, Tate Ashby 1-1 0-0 2, Tucker Conway 0-0 2-2 2, Hunter Gillum 2-3 0-1 4, Asher Adkins 1-4 0-0 2, Tristin Davis 0-1 0-0 0, D.J. Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Nate Freize 0-0 0-0 0, Grayson Jackson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-46 14-16 80.
BOYLE COUNTY (22-5) — Luke Sheperson 4-9 1-3 9, Luke Imfeld 5-12 2-2 12, Hagan Webb 0-4 0-0 0, Owen Barnes 1-1 0-0 2, Jagger Gillis 0-4 2-2 2, Tommy Ziesmer 2-2 0-0 4, Jacob Prewitt 0-0 0-0 0, Kason Myers 1-1 0-0 2, William Carr 1-2 0-0 2, Dalton Stone 2-3 1-1 5, Cruise Wilson 1-1 0-0 2, Conner Padgett 0-0 0-0 0, Gabe Hodge 1-4 0-0 2, Jakei Tarter 1-1 0-0 2, Mason Engle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-44 6-8 44.
Ashland Blazer 24 -6 – 69 – 80
Boyle County 8 – 16 – 26 – 44
3-Point Goals—Ashland Blazer 10-17 (Porter 1-3, Sellars 4-4, Villers 1-3, Carter 4-5, Adkins 0-2), Boyle County 0-7 (Sheperson 0-1, Imfeld 0-2, Gillis 0-1, Hodge 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Ashland Blazer 27 (Marcum 7), Boyle County 19 (Sheperson 5). Assists—Ashland Blazer 17 (Porter 6), Boyle County 3 (Wilson 2). Total Fouls—Ashland Blazer 10, Boyle County 14. A—2,789.