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Ashland uses hot shooting to put running clock on Boyle County in Sweet 16 Quarterfinals

Photo courtesy of Les Nicholson>small>

Photo courtesy of Les Nicholson

The Ashland Blazer Tomcats, ranked #8 in the KSR Prep Rankings, used lights out shooting to defeat the #21 Boyle County Rebels 80-44 Friday night at Rupp Arena. The Tomcats were 10-of-17 from deep and 14-of-16 from the line. Just like yesterday’s win over Knox Central, this game was out of hand early.

Ashland rushed out to a 24-8 first-quarter lead with 10 of those points coming off turnovers. Colin Porter, who is one of the smallest players on the court, had a block that led to a Zander Carter 3-pointer. A few moments later, a Porter steal led to an Ethan Sellars 3-pointer from the corner. Carter and Cole Villers each finished with 10 first-quarter points. Carter added three first-quarter assists. The Rebels shot only 3-for-14 in the quarter to fall in a hole for the second straight game.

Sellars and Villers hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the second quarter to push the Ashland lead to 32-10, forcing a Rebel timeout. The timeout didn’t help. Ashland Blazer extended the lead to 46-16 at halftime, with 22 of those points coming off turnovers. The Tomcats, ranked 13th in the state in 3-point shooting, shot an amazing 7-for-10 from downtown in the first half, with Sellars going 3-for-3. They held the Rebels to 6-for-21 shooting in the half.

The only question going into the second half was whether Ashland could put a running clock on Boyle County. They did just that with 6:24 remaining in the 3rd quarter on a Villers bucket from an assist from Porter.

Unfortunately, Porter, who is one of the top sophomore point guards in the state, fell hard with 2:00 minutes remaining in the third quarter. He landed awkwardly after shooting a three-pointer from the right-wing. Hopefully he will be ok to play tomorrow.

Ashland coach Jason Mays had high praise for Porter.

“He reminds me of Travis Ford,” Mays said. “I personally think he can be a Power 5 player.”

The Tomcats, leading 69-26 at the end of the third quarter, gave the starters the rest of the night off. Villers and Carter led Ashland with 20 points apiece. Carter was 4-for-5 from deep and added five assists. Sellars finished with 17 points and shot 3-for-3 from deep and 4-for-4 from the line. Porter tallied 11 points, five rebounds, six assists, and four steals.

The Tomcats looked like a different team from the one last week that needed a Porter 3-pointer to force overtime against West Carter in the 16th region semis and had to rely on a furious comeback to defeat Rowan County in the region finals. They steamrolled past Knox Central and Boyle County in the Sweet 16.

“We are playing more together right now,” Carter said.

Photo courtesy of Les Nicholson

Unlike yesterday’s game against Paintsville, the Rebels were not able to come back after falling behind early. They looked overmatched against only the second top-25 team they played all season, finishing the game with 17 turnovers and only three assists. Luke Imfeld led the Rebels with 12 points and two steals. Luke Sheperson, who was named to the All-Tournament team, added nine points, five rebounds and three blocks. Their season ends at 22-5. Sheperson made the game-winning defensive play to help the Rebels secure the state football championship.

Ashland moves on to the semifinals where they will play the winner of the McCracken County-Highlands game tomorrow at 2:00 P.M.  The finals are scheduled for tomorrow night at 8:00 P.M. All games will be held at Rupp Arena. Ashland is two wins away from their fifth state basketball championship and the first since Larry Conley helped lead them to the 1961 state title. The Tomcats went undefeated last year but the state tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All-Time State Titles by School

Lafayette – 6

Lexington Henry Clay – 6

Owensboro – 5

Ashland – 4

Male – 4

Article written by Troy Howell

Follow me on twitter @ teeroyhowell