Boyle boys take a wrong turn, bow out to Pulaski

Published 2:22 pm Thursday, March 7, 2024

When the Boyle County boys were good this season, they were very, very good. And when they were bad, well, it looked a lot like this.

The Rebels had endured dramatic swings between those two extremes all season long, and the pendulum swung one final time in the wrong direction Wednesday night.

They paid the ultimate price for a poor performance, as they were routed by Pulaski County 71-44 in the first round of the 12th Region Tournament at Pulaski.

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On the heels of an effort that earned them a district championship, Boyle had an off night in every sense of the word and Pulaski seemed to capitalize on the Rebels’ every error.

“It’s amplified when you’re on this stage and in these games,” Boyle coach Dennie Webb said. “Those little things, just not making that right execution or not getting that loose ball, they cost you, and then they get happy and they get going.”

Boyle (15-16) did its best to keep pace with Pulaski (21-11) for two-thirds of the game before the Maroons broke the game open late in the third quarter.

The Rebels didn’t shoot the ball well, opening 1 for 6 from the field and going 8 for 25 overall and 0 for 10 from 3-point range in the second half.

They were also outhustled and outmuscled in the paint, where Pulaski got 19 of its 23 field goals and outrebounded Boyle 32-21.

“They’re strong and aggressive, and it was just one of those nights,” Webb said.

This was the fifth time this season Boyle had lost by more than 25 points, but the first since Jan. 3, when the Rebels were 3-9 after a 59-point loss to Lexington Catholic.

They won nine of their next 11 games before closing the regular season with four straight losses, but they bounced back from that losing streak to win the 45th District for the first time since 2018.

Most of the players in Boyle’s rotation were with the state championship football team into early December, so it took some time for the Rebels to hit their stride after those players joined the team. And the Rebels dealt with injuries, illness and attrition along the way.

“It’s just been a different year,” Webb said. “It was hard to get some consistency, but the kids who are here kept battling. (They) stuck it out even when things weren’t going well for us and none of us were happy. We had some success and played great basketball last week, and for whatever reason it didn’t carry over to tonight.”

Boyle had only three players who saw significant action last season, and Webb said its lack of regional tournament experience may have been a factor against defending champion Pulaski.

Avery Bodner and Montavin Quisenberry scored 10 points each to lead Boyle, and Quisenberry also had five assists. Demauriah Brown and Seneca Driver added nine points each.

The Rebels led only once at 2-0 and trailed 16-8 late in the first quarter and 29-26 at halftime.

The Maroons opened the second half with an 8-2 run, and Will Blankenship, who scored a game-high 26 points, gave them nine unanswered points late in the third quarter that put them up 49-34.

Boyle trailed by 14 when the fourth quarter began and got only one more basket after that as it was outscored 31-10 over the final 10:44.

“Some of the things that we thought we got addressed and had gotten over from earlier in the year reared its head, but that happens when a good team like Pulaski takes you out of what you’re trying to do,” Webb said.

Zak Anderson had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Pulaski. Carson Fraley had 13 points, and Gavin Cook added 11 for the Maroons.

The Maroons had shot 52 percent from the field in a 62-58 win over Boyle on Feb. 17, and they were even more accurate Wednesday, shooting 55 percent to Bole’s 38 percent.

“They just did a better job than we did, from a coaching standpoint and from an execution standpoint,” Webb said. “It was just an off night for us all around.”