When you’re playing for survival, you’ll take all the extra shots you can get.
The Boyle County boys got plenty of them Tuesday night, muscling their way for offensive rebounds and converting those rebounds into more than enough points to defeat Garrard County 66-52 in a 45th District Tournament semifinal at Rebel Arena.
They got to more of their own missed shots than Garrard did, outrebounding the Golden Lions 16-13 on their end of the floor and 44-22 overall. They scored 14 points off second and third shots in the first 10 1/2 minutes as they built a 25-9 lead and finished with 29 second-chance points.
“That was probably a game-changer,” Boyle center Micah Miniard said. “We’ve been working on getting more rebounds in practice, and we hit the offensive boards real hard.”
Boyle coach Steve Adams said the Rebels emphasized rebounding, and especially in the previous two days.
“For the most part, we shoot the ball pretty well, but if we can keep getting extra possessions, the more times we can shoot it, the more chances it has to go in, obviously,” Adams said. “The kids did a great job just being relentless.”
Miniard had 15 rebounds and Hagen Tyler had 13 for top-seeded Boyle (14-12), which will play for the championship Friday against the winner of tonight’s Lincoln County-Danville semifinal.
The Rebels shot 56 percent in the first half and 50 percent overall from the field, making their extra possessions all the more meaningful. The Lions (7-22) hit just one of their first eight attempts from the field and shot 29 percent in the first half and 39 percent overall.
“We knew that defense would do it,” Miniard said.
Garrard coach Dennis Pardue said it did.
“Boyle County played great defense tonight. They contested every shot, and we weren’t able to shoot the ball well,” Pardue said. “They just made shots in the first half and we didn’t, and they killed us on the offensive boards, and that was the biggest difference in the ballgame.”
Boyle had won both of its regular-season meetings with Garrard by six points, but Adams said he thought the Rebels needed to change some things on defense in the third game.
“We switched up and did a couple of things a little different. After you play somebody a couple times, they start to see what you’re about and get to know you a little better,” Adams said.
Miniard and Brett Jones scored 15 points each to lead a balanced Boyle scoring attack that also included 13 points from Tyler and 11 from Aram Martin.
“That’s awesome. You like that balance,” Adams said. “Offense is not equal opportunity all the time, but we try to get it to where if they cut hard, they know they’ve got an opportunity to score layups, and if they attack the offensive glass, they know they’ve got chances to score.”
Boyle brought a six-game losing streak into the postseason, but five of the Rebels’ losses were to teams with winning records.
“We talk about that all year long: We’re doing it so that these games are a little different. We try to do that every year, and I think our kids understand that and know we’re trying to get better for district, region,” Adams said.
Garrard had won four straight games after winning only three of its first 24, and Pardue said he’s looking forward to what next season might hold for a team that will graduate only one starter.
“We’ve got most of our kids back, and we’re looking forward to the offseason, and we’re going to go to work and hopefully try to change the outcome of this game next year,” he said.
The outcome of this game seemed to be determined early on, as Boyle led 10-2 after 3 1/2 minutes and 35-14 at halftime after going 15 of 27 overall from the field and 5 for 9 from 3-point range. Garrard was 1 for 7 from long range and 6 for 21 overall in the first half.
The Rebels outscored the Lions 8-2 over the first 3:13 of the second half to take their largest lead at 43-16.
Garrard used a 17-4 run to pull within 49-35 early in the fourth quarter but got no closer.
“But I’m proud of the way our kids fought and battled to the end. That makes you happy as a coach,” Pardue said.
Clayton Ray led the Lions with 16 points, Billy Abney added 12 points and Jesse Ray had a team-high nine rebounds.
Miniard had four blocked shots and Tyler had four assists for Boyle.
Boyle now gets two days off before the finals, but Adams said the Rebels won’t rest.
“We’re going to get a good practice tomorrow and worry about us, and then we’ll concentrate on who we play Friday on Thursday,” he said.
45th District Tournament
At Boyle County
Garrard County 8 14 34 52
Boyle County 17 35 49 66
GARRARD (7-22) — Jesse Ray 2, Clayton Ray 16, Billy Abney 12, Austin Sebastian 4, Slade Crutchfield 9, Cameron Woods 3, Logan Teague 1, Nick McCollum 5.
BOYLE (14-12) — Aram Martin 11, Devin True 4, Micah Miniard 15, Brett Jones 15, Hagen Tyler 13, Josiah Robbins 3, Chapman Bean 3, Colton Elkins 2.