Boyle County earns top seed in district tourney with close win over Lincoln

Published 11:45 pm Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Boyle County wasn’t very good at the start or the end of Wednesday’s game, but the Rebels did enough in between to get the win they wanted.

The Boyle boys overcame an early assault and withstood a late charge by Lincoln County to escape with a 53-51 victory in a battle between a pair of tired teams at Rebel Arena.

The Rebels locked up the No. 1 seed for the 45th District Tournament with the win.

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“That was our goal, and now we’re going to try to get better from this point on,” Boyle coach Steve Adams said.

Boyle (13-5, 5-0 district) fell behind in the first quarter but quickly recovered and had the upper hand for well over half the game, but the Rebels survived only after Lincoln (11-14, 2-2) erased most of a 10-point deficit in the final 90 seconds.

“We did better as the game went along – until the last minute,” Adams said. “Our kids played really hard and did a nice job.”

The Rebels were tired, the Patriots probably more so, but neither team gave an inch as they faced off for the second time in six days.

Boyle beat West Jessamine on Monday to kick off a run of three games in five days and six games in 13 days. Lincoln was playing the second night of a back-to-back that started with a four-overtime win at Southwestern, and it will play three games in four days this week.

However, even if the Patriots were fatigued after playing 80 minutes of basketball in 25 1/2 hours, coach Jeff Jackson wasn’t about to use that as an excuse.

“I’m proud of our kids. I thought our effort was good,” Jackson said. “They were a little quicker to the ball a few times, and they made some plays when they needed to make plays and we had a few breakdowns in special situation times. I’ve got to do a better job coaching my kids; that’s what my wife will tell me when I walk through the door tonight.”

Boyle, which defeated Lincoln 61-53 on Friday, completed a sweep of the regular-season series after losing 11 of the previous 13 games in the series.

Jason Alexander scored 11 points in the first half and finished with 15 to lead three players in double figures for Boyle. Reese Smith scored all 13 of his points in the second half, getting nine of them at the free-throw line, and Will Bramel had nine of his 11 points in the second half.

Chase Phillips scored 19 points in the second half and finished with a game-high 27 for Lincoln. He had 14 of the Patriots’ 21 points in the fourth quarter, including eight points in the last 1:50.

Boyle was in double figures in offensive rebounds for the second straight game, getting nine offensive boards in the second half to finish with 10. The Rebels got four of them on a single possession in the third quarter that resulted in two free throws by Bramel.

Smith got four of his game-high seven rebounds off the offensive glass, and Bramel got three of his six boards there.

“The coaches always tell us if we can get at least three people in the paint we’ll have a good chance of getting the ball whether it’s off a deflection or on a rebound. We practice that every day, and it’s been showing up lately,” Bramel said.

Jackson said Lincoln needs to get its hands on more of those rebounds and deflections.

“We’ve got to get some 50-50 balls that we didn’t get, and we’ve got to get some rebounds. They hurt us really bad on the offensive glass,” he said.

Alexander scored nine points in the first 4:11 of the second quarter for Boyle, and he got a 3-point basket and a layup during an 11-0 run in which the Rebels turned a 15-6 deficit into a 17-15 lead.

Lincoln scored 15 points in the first 6:15 of the game, but it took the Patriots until the end of the third quarter to get another 15. They scored only 24 points over 25 minutes after going up 15-6 thanks in part to 3-pointers by Spencer Baird, Blake Smith and Phillips.

“We just told ourselves to put a lot more emphasis on defense. We were getting down and just guarding them … and we did that the rest of the game,” Bramel said.

“The only adjustment we really made was what we were doing we weren’t doing properly,” Adams added. “We were backing up too far instead of getting into the passing lanes and the gaps.”

For all of its work on defense, Boyle’s lead fluctuated between four and nine points until midway through the fourth quarter. That’s when Bramel scored seven straight points for his team, including five unanswered points that gave the Rebels a 44-34 lead with 3:53 remaining.

It was 49-39 with 1:15 to play before Phillips hit a 3-pointer and drove to the basket twice to pull Lincoln within 50-46 with 29 seconds left.

After Boyle’s Alexander hit one of two free throws at :14, Jaxon Smith sank a 3 for Lincoln with seven seconds left. But the Patriots were out of timeouts, and by the time Boyle’s Grant Hotchkiss got the ball to inbound it, the Rebels realized they didn’t have to.

Boyle now faces a rematch with archrival Danville on Friday. The Rebels won the first meeting 42-35 on Jan. 9 at Danville.

“The kids will be up for that, and then we’re probably going to give them the weekend off,” Adams said. “We’re just going to try to survive this week and then regroup.”

Lincoln also has a rematch Friday, hosting Garrard County, a team it defeated 63-57 on Feb. 23.

“We’re probably going to go a little lighter tomorrow, review some things and really put an emphasis on the game Friday night, because it’s going to be tough, too,” Jackson said.

Lincoln County         15        20        30        51

Boyle County 8          27        35        53

LINCOLN (11-14) – Bryson Yaden 6, Blake Smith 7, Jaxon Smith 3, Chase Phillips 27, Spencer Baird 5, Elijah Frye 3.

BOYLE (13-5) – Reese Smith 13, Grant Hotchkiss 6, Jason Alexander 15, Bryce Slone 8, Will Bramel 11.