Rebels show improvement in loss to Pulaski

Published 11:46 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Before it stumbled down the stretch, the Boyle County boys basketball had the top team in the 12th Region on the ropes. That’s progress.

But the Rebels did stumble, getting outscored by nearly 20 points in the second half on the way to Pulaski County’s 82-73 win on Tuesday at Rebel Arena. And that’s the point where Rebels coach Steve Adams knows more improvement is needed.

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“We’re getting better. When you’re playing what is supposedly the best team in the region, you can’t have the silly mistakes that we still continue to make,” Adams said. “But we’re not doing as many of them.

“It’s frustrating because we’re so close, but we’re tired of being so close. Our older kids have to be smarter and help the younger ones along and be in the right spot. But again, it’s a long, long way to go and we’re seeing progress.”

The Rebels were led by two of their older kids, Bryce Slone and Jason Alexander. Slone hit 12 of his team-high 25 points during a 22-2 run in the second quarter that turned a 27-17 deficit into a 39-29 halftime lead for the Rebels (6-8).

Alexander added 15 points, hitting 6-of-8 from the floor, and maybe just as importantly providing an often steady hand at the point.

Freshman Reese Smith had 12 of his 21 points after halftime, including back-to-back three-point plays in the fourth quarter as the Maroons (12-3) threatened to turn the game into a rout.

“We’ve been working on making sure he attacks the basket and gets into the lane, creates some fouls so he gets to the free throw line,” Adams said of Slone. “They’re all getting better every day.”

The Maroons rode the strong play of senior forward Trevon Sylvester, who had a double-double with 27 points and 14 rebounds. The Rebels two inside players had nine combined fouls, with junior Will Bramel fouling out in the fourth quarter.

“They did a good job of getting him the ball. We did not do a good job of weak-side help, making them have to lob it and going to get it,” Adams said. “We’re still making those mistakes defensively. Our posts have to understand position on the floor; sometimes we were trying to front him or three-quarter him too high where it opened it up and made it a long way for the weak-side help to get there.”

Steven Fitzgerald had 26 points and Landon Powell 19 for the Maroons, which went 5-of-9 from 3-point range in the second half.

After Smith made a pair of free throws two-and-a-half minutes into the second half, the Rebels still held a 10-point lead at 45-35. However, the Maroons scored 15 of the next 17 points to make their run and take a 54-49 lead late in the third quarter.

And from there, the Maroons made 13-of-18 free throws to keep the Rebels at bay. Pulaski outshot Boyle 21-6 from the line in the second half, making 14 free throws to Boyle’s five. For the game, each team made 16 free throws even though Pulaski had five more attempts.

During and after the game, Adams was frustrated with the officiating. He received a technical foul during Pulaski’s run in the third quarter, the second technical of the game and the only one on the Rebels.

“Especially when you’re there taking charges and it’s called a block on us,” he said.

The Rebels will look to continue their improvement and progress as they play three of their next four games against 45th District opponents in the next seven days, starting Friday at Garrard County.

And with games against some of the state’s top teams, like Pulaski, Adams is expecting that work to pay off sooner rather than later.

“Playing that schedule, being as young as we are, if we continue to make progress, continue to work, continue to help each other, I think we’ll be alright by the end of the year,” Adams said.

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn

PULASKI COUNTY 21 8 27 26 — 82

BOYLE COUNTY 15 25 15 19 — 73

PULASKI COUNTY (12-3) — Steven Fitzgerald 26, Danny Butt 3, Landon Powell 19, Trevon Sylvester 27, Hagan Elmore 7.

BOYLE COUNTY (6-8) — Reese Smith 21, Will Imfeld 8, Jason Alexander 15, Bryce Slone 25, Will Bramel 4.