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Rebels finish strong for win at Mercer tourney

HARRODSBURG — Turnovers were a problem again for Boyle County in the first round of the Farmers National Bank Clash of Titans tournament Wednesday at Mercer County.

But the Rebels put up 22 points in the fourth quarter to beat Louisville Eastern 60-56. They’ll take on the host Titans in today’s second round.

Boyle had 17 turnovers, 10 coming in the first half, and struggled to contain Eastern’s penetration — the Eagles finished 20-for-31 from two-point range.

Boyle coach Steve Adams said he and his coaching staff have been documenting miscues in practice and in games. More miscues equal more time spent running in practice, he said.

We’ve went to the thing in practice where we’re charting every thing that we work on, break down drills that we don’t do right, working on live drills,” he said. “And we’re running. Yesterday, we had two kids throw up. So they’re either going to have to learn or we’re going to be a very well conditioned team. Hopefully they’ll get tired of running and we’ll start knowing the basketball is important to take care of.

“We had just so many unforced turnovers, bad decisions. We did better on some things, we had two freshmen and a sophomore out there at one point. We’re just going to have to be extra patient, keep working, keep fussing at them and hopefully at some point, we’ll understand.”

Boyle guard Jason Alexander said Adams told the team they’d be running this morning before their game at night.

“Mental mistakes, just like coach has been saying,” he said. “We had a lot of unforced turnovers that we’ve got to pick up. If we would’ve taken care of the ball, we probably would have won a lot easier.”

But there were positives from Boyle’s play Wednesday against an athletic Eastern team. The Rebels earned their fourth win of the season in the fourth quarter, with Alexander and Slone making seven free throws in a row to hold the lead. Freshman Reese Smith scored 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting and had a team-high three assists. Fellow frosh Grant Hotchkiss played a strong 8 minutes, 45 seconds, grabbing three rebounds.

“They’re definitely come along, you can tell,” Alexander said. “Reese is doing really well, you can tell that he’s adjusted to the game. Grant, we’re starting to get him along, get him varsity experience so when it comes tournament time, they’re just like us out there, they know what they’re doing and they’re ready.”

Adams was impressed with Hotchkiss’ poise in a tournament game.

“Grant did a great job, he’s really coming along in practice, he understands things,” the coach said. “We put him at four or five different positions. Again, he’s still a freshman playing in his fifth, sixth game. But he’s mature beyond his age, he’s steady and we trust what he does out on the floor. He just battles and plays hard.”

Bryce Slone led the Rebels with 20 points. Alexander scored 13 points and was 4-for-4 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line. Will Bramel finished with nine points and a game-high six rebounds.

Now, Boyle will play Mercer in the tournament semifinals. With a win, the Rebels could face 45th District foe Lincoln County in the championship. The Patriots play Muhlenberg County in the other semifinal game today.

“We’re familiar with Mercer and Lincoln, so we’re excited to be in this tournament,” Alexander said. “Mentally, we’ve got to be there, but I think we’re excited to play some teams around here. Obviously we want to play Lincoln, that’s our motivation. We know they are important games because they’ll help us in the long run.”

Follow Matt Overing on Twitter @MOvering

Clash of the Titans

BOYLE CO. 13 10 15 22 — 60

EASTERN 8 14 18 16 — 56

BOYLE COUNTY — Bryce Slone 20, Reese Smith 16, Jason Alexander 13, Will Bramel 9, Will Imfield 2

EASTERN — Caleb Williams 19, Braxton Johnson 10, Javen Rushin 9, Sugar Wyche 9, Jacob Robinson 5, Jordan Lyons 4