SUMMIT Simply put, Gunner Short is having a ball in his first season at Boyd County.
The senior forward scored six of his 16 points down the stretch to help lift the Lions past Ashland, 56-51, in the 64th District championship game Thursday night.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Short said. “This is great. I don’t know how to explain it. I’m so happy for everyone on my team. It’s an honor to play with them. I know every game they are going to play as hard as they can.”
After the trophy presentations, Boyd County players assembled for a photo at midcourt and several players flashed five digits to represent the Lions’ string of district titles.
While Short experienced the thrill for the first time, senior teammate Reese Robinson savored the moment after his final contest at Boyd County Middle School gym.
“I’ve played a lot of games here, going back to elementary,” said Robinson, who finished with eight points and a team-high eight rebounds. “Going out on a win in this game means a lot to me, and I think it’s the same for the other seniors. The younger guys don’t know how fast time goes.”
Robinson connected on a 3-pointer to put his team up 8-6. Boyd County never relinquished the lead, though it remained in single digits in a physical contest.
“That rivalry, it’s intense, it’s tight,” Lions coach Randy Anderson said. “It doesn’t matter who is in those uniforms. We felt like it would be a war. It was a battle all night.”
Boyd County’s victory evened the season series at 2-2. Both teams move on to the 16th Region Tournament next week. Short can’t wait to get to Morehead State University’s Johnson Arena.
“Just getting to play on a big court like that,” he said. “There will probably be a big audience. I’m looking forward to the whole experience there.”
The Lions had to work to close out Ashland and Boyd County’s Robinson said he feels like it’s not the last time the teams will meet this season.
“If you take a poll around the region, I think most people believe we will play each other again,” he said. “It’s always a good matchup. Both are well-coached teams.”
Boyd County (26-6) led 47-39 with 5:10 remaining after Short spun and hit a shot. Ashland got as close as two, only to watch the home team answer with five straight points.
The Tomcats (22-5) made one last run, closing to 55-51 on Chase Villers’ 3-pointer. The teams traded three turnovers before Ashland missed a 3-pointer. Short hauled down the rebound and made one of two free throws with 14 seconds remaining to set the final score.
“The energy and effort were exactly what you want in a rivalry game, a district final,” Ashland coach Jeremy Howell said. “I thought we guarded well. That’s probably one of the lowest totals for Boyd County all year.”
Only Huntington High held the Lions to fewer points — 52 on Jan. 30.
Blake Stewart scored 15 and Taylor Smith 11 as Boyd County won for the 18th time in its last 19 games.
Ashland’s Devaunte Robinson turned in a strong performance with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Villers took game scoring honors with 17, but the Lions limited him to 6-for-18 shooting. Ashland struggled from beyond the 3-point line, going 4-for-23.
“We didn’t shoot well,” Howell said. “You have to shoot well to win games.”
Boyd County boosted its cause by hitting shots in the final seconds of the first three quarters — Reese Robinson had a putback, Smith drained a 3-pointer and Stewart hit a tough shot from the lane.
“It gives you a lot of momentum,” Robinson said. “We just executed well offensively and defensively. It’s a great win for us. We have a lot of confidence going into the regional tournament.”
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