Boyle boys look to find their footing after late start

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The basketball preseason doesn’t usually last so long, but the Boyle County boys are an unusual case.

A team made up mostly of players who didn’t get into the gym until about four weeks ago paid a price for that early in the season, but now Boyle is ready to begin its season in earnest.

After losing seven of the eight games they played before Christmas, the Rebels used the Mercer County Holiday Classic as a springboard into the heart of a season in which they hope to contend for 45th District and 12th Region championships.

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“We told them going into the break, ‘This was our preseason. Let’s look at it this way. Now we’re starting our regular season,’” Boyle coach Dennie Webb said.

Boyle had lost five straight games since its only pre-Christmas win, but it got a feel-good win over Western Hills in its second “season opener” Thursday to begin its three-day run at Mercer on a high note.

“I think it shows what we can do,” Webb said. “And we’ve known this from the preseason, before we got everybody out. We knew we could be good.”

Webb and the Rebels also knew it would take a little time. The top nine players in their rotation and 13 of the 18 players on their roster were part of the football team that won the Class 4A championship Dec. 1 and didn’t join the basketball team until after the season had started.

“We’re just trying to put it all together, and within that we’re trying to figure out lineups and rotations, who’s playing well and who isn’t, things that you get to see in practice in early November that we’re working on right now.”

Even so, Webb said he thought the Rebels would be a little farther along by now. Five of their seven losses before Christmas break were by at least 10 points, and they lost to Central Hardin by 38 and LaRue County by 27 and scored only 33 points in a loss to 45th District rival Danville Christian.

“I think all of us – kids included, myself – we were a little shocked at how long it’s taken to get this going,” Webb said. “But it’s a tough situation for those kids when they’re asked to come for practice or two and then get run out there and try to play, and then me yelling and carrying on and wanting to do things perfectly and it’s just not happening. So we’ve all got to be a little bit patient.

The upcoming schedule won’t allow much time for patience, with a game against Lexington Catholic tonight at Bourbon County and home games against Wayne County on Friday and South Laurel on Saturday and the heart of the district schedule just days away.

“This week is going to be a tough one,” Webb said.

Webb said there were glimpses of good play before the break, but Boyle struggled to put a well-rounded game together.

“We’re working on one thing and do a nice job in that, but then something else rears its head for a while … so it’s important to try and put it all together,” he said.

That happened in Boyle’s 74-47 win over Western Hills, when the Rebels shot 46 percent from the field with 22 assists and only six turnovers and held the Wolverines to 21 percent shooting in the second half.

Boyle outscored Western Hills 20-6 in the third quarter and 43-17 in the second half. Montavin Quisenberry scored 11 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, and Brock Driver had seven of his game-high nine rebounds after halftime. Guy Turner contributed six assists, three in each half.

Boyle is blending a handful of players who filled key roles last season – junior Quisenberry, senior Avery Bodner and freshmen Turner and Maddox Hager – with players who either saw little action or weren’t with the team at all.

“Essentially three or four guys are trying to acclimate everybody else out there,” Webb said. “So it’s coming. Hopefully it’ll keep getting better. It’s the only choice you’ve got, to keep growing and building.

“The biggest thing I’m happy with is that they enjoy being out there, they share the ball, they’re happy for each other.”

Mercer County

Mercer County got off to a better start, but the Titans were ready to hit the reset button in their own tournament.

They won five of their first six games, then lost four straight, including all three of their games at Lexington Christian’s tournament.

Mercer dropped a double-overtime decision to Franklin County in the first round of its own tournament, falling 70-64 after letting a 10-point lead slip away in the last two minutes of regulation.

The Titans return to action Saturday against Bryan Station before playing five consecutive 46th District games.