Rebels defense strong on the road against West Jessamine

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, January 30, 2018

NICHOLASVILLE – Reese Smith hadn’t planned on playing a basketball game on his 17th birthday, but he couldn’t think of a better way to spend it.

Smith took the party on the road Monday night, posting a double-double to help the Boyle County boys earn an impressive road win.

The sophomore guard had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Rebels to a 65-55 victory at West Jessamine.

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“I was actually pretty happy to play on my birthday,” Smith said. “I get to do what I love.”

Smith and his teammates will be doing plenty of that in the coming days. This was the first of three games in five days and six games in 13 days for Boyle (12-5), which only a couple of weeks ago saw some games and practices wiped out by winter storms.

The Rebels couldn’t have gotten off to a better start in this stretch, as they opened a double-digit lead over host West Jessamine (12-7) early in the second quarter and repelled several charges by the Colts over the rest of the evening.

“It’s definitely a good win,” Smith said. “Getting a double-digit win on the road against this team is huge. We played together, played smart. We did what we needed to do to win.”

Boyle coach Steve Adams gave his team high marks for its performance.

“The kids did a great job,” Adams said. “We’re getting better at things every day, and we played really, really hard. We still made some mistakes … but I’ll take that type of effort any day.”

Boyle’s busy week continues Wednesday with its second game in six days against Lincoln County, a rescheduled home game in which it has a chance to clinch the No. 1 seed for the 45th District Tournament. The Rebels will follow that with a rematch against Danville on Friday at home.

“These next two, especially Wednesday, are huge. And then the next week it doesn’t get any easier,” Adams said. “But it’s fun. This is how we get better, and this is how we’re getting ready for the district and region. You’d rather play these type of games than games where you’d beat somebody by 20.”

West Jessamine agreed to move this game, which was scheduled for Tuesday, up 24 hours so Boyle wouldn’t have to play on back-to-back nights. The Rebels repaid the courtesy by keeping the Colts’ 3-point shooters in check and controlling the glass to win for the fifth time in six games.

The Rebels outrebounded the Colts 34-24 and had 14 offensive rebounds, including five by Smith.

“I’ve got to do that every game. I think that’s one of my roles,” he said. “We’re an offensive rebounding team. If we can get one person back and have everyone else crashing the boards, that’s huge.”

All of Boyle’s players got back on defense to keep West Jessamine’s top 3-point shooters, Skyler Cannady and Dalton Bruner, from setting up shop in the corners. The two combined to go just 3 for 9 from long range, which is one reason why the Colts were held far below their season average of 74.4 points per game.

Boyle opened the second half with three straight baskets to take a 33-23 lead, and Adams immediately called a timeout to reinforce the importance of getting back on defense.

“They do a great job pushing it in transition, and we wanted to make sure that was still implanted in their heads,” he said. “We did a great job defensively. We’ve been working defensively really hard here lately and made a few minor changes, and the kids really responded.”

The Rebels led 18-7 early in the second quarter, but West Jessamine rallied to tie the game at 23 all behind seven points by Cannady and four by Bruner.

Boyle had runs of 6-0, 7-0 and 6-0 during the third quarter to regain a 45-31 lead, and closed the period with a 75-foot buzzer-beating bomb by Bryce Slone that countered a 3-pointer by Bruner seconds earlier.

Slone’s long 3 started a 7-0 run that gave the Rebels a 52-36 lead with 7:16 remaining. The Colts cut the margin to single digits one last time, but Boyle put the game out of reach with another five straight points that made it 59-45 with 2:57 to play.

Jason Alexander scored 14 points in the second half and finished with 18 for Boyle. Grant Hotchkiss had 12 points and Slone added 11 for the Rebels, who shot 47 percent from the field.

Slone also had eight rebounds, and Will Bramel had five boards.

Now it’s on to Wednesday’s game against Lincoln and all the games that will follow quickly after that.

“We’ve got to stay tuned in, and we’ve got to keep playing together, keep doing the fundamenntals,” Smith said.

Boyle County 14        27        48        65

West Jessamine         7          27        36        55

BOYLE (12-5) – Reese Smith 23, Grant Hotchkiss 12, Jason Alexander18, Bryce Slone 11, Will Bramel 1.

WEST JESSAMINE (12-7) – Skyler Cannady 21, Chance McCullough 5, Kyle Anderson 2, Drew Cook 4, Dalton Bruner 17, DeAjuan Stepp 2, Jayden Preston 4.