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Take it away: Kittens force a multitude of turnovers, defeat Raceland 74-45

Jan. 30—RACELAND — Sometimes the best offense is a good defense.

While that's not exactly how the old idiom goes, it rang true Monday night when Ashland took down Raceland 74-45.

The Kittens were lifted by stellar defense. Ashland forced 27 turnovers on the night and allowed just nine field goals in the final three quarters.

"Our defensive intensity in the second quarter made the difference," Ashland coach Stacy Davis said. "We didn't come out in the first quarter playing the type of defense that we usually play. We were flat. We preach all the time that defense is our game. That's how our offense is created. Our defensive effort brought it."

The Kittens' offense was busy as well, especially in the second quarter when the visiting squad outscored Raceland, 29-3.

The Rams struggled from the field for much of the night, though they did stay even with Ashland through the first quarter.

"Ashland is a wonderful team... the top team in the region," Raceland coach Marty Thomas said. "It was a really tough game. Our first quarters are always really good, and then we drop in the second quarter. We're still searching for the second quarter."

Raceland's turnover issues started early, turning the ball over five times in just the first four minutes of the contest. The Kittens capitalized on the miscues, getting points off of each takeaway.

Raceland stayed even with Ashland despite giving the ball away. The Rams held a 9-8 lead on the Kittens following a pair of Carley Boyd free throws with 3:55 to go in the opening quarter.

The two squads went toe-to-toe for the rest of the frame and entered the second quarter tied 17-17.

In the second frame, the Kittens got hot and fired off an 11-0 run that was broken by a lone Kennedy Taylor free throw at the 4:37 mark.

Ashland's run was highlighted by Gabby Karle, who hit a pair of 3-pointers to start the second quarter.

Following a Rams timeout, Ashland went on another 11-0 run that caused Raceland to call another timeout, now trailing 39-18 with 2:07 to go.

Fortunes didn't change much after that timeout either.

Raceland managed two free throws from Taylor but finished the frame with zero made field goals.

Ashland added a few more points, capped off by a Jaidyn Gulley 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to the half with the Kittens leading 46-20.

The turnover tally for Raceland by the break was 17, which Ashland converted into a multitude of points and aided the second-quarter differential.

"We talk about transition points, and before we came out for this game, that was our focus," Davis said. "I wanted to see how many transition points we could get. Our defense is what leads to that. We'll be checking that out when we go back and look at the stats."

Boyd hit Raceland's first field goal since the opening quarter to start the second half.

The shot was called a 2-pointer on the court but was recorded on the scoreboard as a 3-pointer and never corrected.

Including that phantom 3, Boyd ended the night with a trio of treys. She was the only player with a made 3-pointer for Raceland.

Boyd was involved in a lot of positive plays for the Rams. Thomas says Boyd's efforts in the game might not always be on the stat sheet, but she is a difference-maker.

"Carley is very important to us," Thomas said. "She's our third-leading rebounder, right there in the scoring column every game. In the past five games, she's 15 of 15 from the free throw line. She's an excellent talent for us."

Ashland continued to add to its lead in the third frame. The Kittens slowed the pace down and ate some clock to get to the end of the quarter with a 62-30 lead.

In the final quarter, Ashland altered its lineup to give some players further down the bench a chance to get on the court.

Raceland followed suit at the midpoint of the frame.

Kenleigh Woods led the game with 24 points. Woods made nine of her first 10 attempts from the floor.

"We talk about feeding the hot hand," Davis said. "It doesn't matter who it is. It varies from game to game. We're very unselfish. They just want to win and have one goal: get back to Rupp and play. They know that if one of them is hot, let's get it to them.

Raceland was led by Kennedy Taylor with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Thomas hopes his squad can work on the physicality of the game coming out of the contest.

"We have to be in position on defense so we can rebound the basketball," Thomas said. "We can't give up so many offensive rebounds. There's some toughness and grit that comes alongside that. Physical contact. Sometimes we don't like physical contact, so we're going to have to get in practice and get physical with each other."

ASHLAND FG FT REB TP

Woods 11-15 2-3 3 24

Karle 5-11 0-0 4 12

Duckwyler 4-8 0-0 7 8

J. Gulley 3-5 0-0 8 7

A. Gulley 3-9 1-1 3 7

Thomas 2-4 0-0 1 4

Sellars 2-11 0-2 2 4

Delaney 2-4 0-2 4 4

Troxler 0-1 2-2 0 2

Scites 1-1 0-0 1 2

Rogers 0-0 0-0 1 0

Team 5

TOTAL 33-69 5-10 39 74

FG Pct.: 47.8. FT Pct.: 50. 3-pointers: 3-14 (Karle 2-5, J. Gulley 1-1, Thomas 0-1, Troxler 0-1, Woods 0-1, Sellars 0-5). PF: 13. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 13.

RACELAND FG FT REB TP

Taylor 5-10 5-6 9 15

N. Maynard 4-13 5-6 3 13

Boyd 3-9 2-2 4 11

Adkins 1-4 0-1 3 2

S. Maynard 1-1 0-0 1 2

Whitt 1-2 0-0 3 2

Lacks 0-3 0-0 2 0

Campbell 0-1 0-0 0 0

Boggs 0-3 0-0 1 0

Team 2

TOTAL 15-46 12-15 28 45

FG Pct.: 32.6. FT Pct.: 80. 3-pointers: 3-17 (Boyd 3-6, Adkins 0-1, Lacks 0-3, N. Maynard 0-7). PF: 7. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 27.

ASHLAND 17 29 16 12 — 74

RACELAND 17 3 10 15 — 45

Officials: David Stafford, Bill Renzi, Dwayne Farrow

(606) 326-2658 — wadams@dailyindependent.com