By: Miranda H. Lewis
Carter County Times
In a tightly contested boys basketball affair Friday night at West Carter High School, the hosting West Carter Comets bookended the game with defense and key scoring runs.
The Comet’s have enjoyed some good stretches this season but have been waiting for a full 32-minutes of intensity.
Lots of familiarity and a slim 1% difference statistically between the teams made this district game different.
For the first time all season, the Comets went end to end for a full 32 minutes and posted a 68-57 win over the Elliott County Lions.
Nathan Sturgill provided a major spark for Elliott County, making back-to-back 3 pointers to help the Lions break away with a nine-point lead at the top of the second quarter.
Trailing 17-8 in the middle of the frame, the Comets embarked on an 8-0 run fueled by a combined effort from Jake Carter, Ethan Bledsoe, and Nick Parker.
The three accounted for 12 of West Carter’s 20 points at the 3:20 mark in the second quarter.
Coy Maddix went 2-2 at the charity stripe to send the teams into intermission with Elliott leading by one, 30-29.
The second quarter was an indication that the Comets trust their bench to make plays in pivotal moments – and the underclassmen rose to the occasion.
Fifteen of West Carter’s 29 points came from its bench at the half.
“We are playing nine to ten players every single game,” said West Carter Coach Jeremy Webb.
He added, “We’re seeing the continuity. They’re learning how to play together, and everyone is getting involved.”
The energy and enthusiasm brought by the reserves was responsible for swinging the momentum of the game in the first half.
Jacob Waddell opened the third frame by pulling down an offensive rebound and returning it strong, knotting the game 33–all.
Consecutive baskets from Kaleb Rayburn, Jordan Fuston, Brett Dailey, Nathan Webb, and Waddell ignited a 10-0 Comet run.
Dailey created contact to send himself to the free throw line with under a minute left to play in the third.
Fuston, following suit, created a strong base, absorbed contact and put on a phenomenal display of offensive rebounding. He controlled the boards throughout the game with 11 rebounds.
The Comet starters shined in the third quarter, scoring 20 points collectively and holding Elliott County to six points.
“The execution in the third quarter and late in the second quarter was really good. We really started executing our plays and making some shots out of our plays. It was good to see,” said Webb.
West opened the fourth frame with a 49-36 lead.
Waddell pulled down an offensive rebound and was fouled on the return; he went 1-1 at the free throw line.
Lake Adkins responded with a triple on the ensuing possession, cutting the lead to single digits at the 6:40 mark,41-50.
Rayburn came up with a steal and layup to put West back up by 12 at the 6:00 mark.
Elijah Faulkner made a deep three for the Lions at 4:50, 48-55.
Maddix answered back with a triple on the next possession for the Comets, 58-48.
The Comets kept building leads and finding ways to make plays to short-circuit each of the Lion’s comeback efforts.
West Carter punctuated their win from the free throw line.
Maddix went 2-2 and Dailey 4-4 from the charity stripe in the final stretch of the game.
The Comet’s extended their lead to 68-57 with 34 seconds remaining in the final stanza.
Leading the way for the Lions was Tyler Fannin with 15 points, Sturgill collected 13 points and Adkins tallied ten points.
Elliott County made 39% of its field goals, 53% of its foul shots and 48% of its treys.
West Carter leaned on solid defense and, in turn, found good offensive looks to hang on for the district win.
“Defense is big for us. We knew we had to come out after halftime and take space away from those guys on the perimeter,” said Webb.
Dailey finished with 18 points to lead the Comets, Waddell added 11 points and Fuston chipped in eight.
West Carter made 48% of its field goals, 69% of its foul shots and 27% of its treys.
“Our guys are very deserving of this, we’ve had a very difficult stretch of basketball games,” said Webb.
“Sports have their peaks and valleys, their ups and downs but you have to keep working, to keep playing and don’t give in” he continued.
West Carter (4-13) hits the road to play Raceland on Tuesday.
West Carter 8 21 20 19 – 68
Elliott County 9 21 6 21- 57
West Carter (68) –Dailey 18, Waddell 11, Fuston 8, Webb 7, Maddix 7, Bledsoe 5, Carter 5, Rayburn 4, Parker 3. 2-Pt. FG: 22/46 3-Pt. FG: 4/15 FT: 20/29. Fouls: Turnovers: 11.
Elliott County (57) – Fannin 15, Sturgill 13, Adkins 10, Barker 8, Faulkner 6, Martin 5.2-Pt. FG: 19/49 3-Pt. FG: 411/23 FT: 8/15. Fouls: Turnovers:13.