Defensive breakdowns that led to fouls and open shots helped Fleming County to a 77-68 win over West Jessamine on Tuesday night.
“We’re not a super-quick team defensively,” West coach Damon Kelley said. “When (Fleming) got the lead and kind of spread the floor on us, and we’re going to have a hard time coming out and guarding people off the dribble.
“But that’s not an excuse to not have guys rotating over to help. We got exposed tonight by a good basketball team.”
In the first half, it was fouls that got the Colts in trouble — they were called for seven in the first eight minutes alone. Even with the heavy fouling that slowed down the pace of the game, West led throughout much of the first quarter.
West stayed in control during the second period and even cut down on its fouling. The Colts were prepared to take a 34-33 lead into the half as Will Henderson hit a three-pointer with seven seconds remaining; however, Fleming got off a contested three-pointer well beyond the arc as time expired to steal the lead back and take a 36-34 advantage into the break.
Midway through the game, Daulton Crouse, Rashawn Jackson, Chase Fain and Robby Irgang each had two fouls for the Colts.
Fleming’s two-point lead expanded to six in the first 40 seconds of the second half, forcing Kelley to burn a timeout.
The timeout didn’t do too much to cut down on West’s defensive woes.
“I think we hung our heads when they got the lead and we didn’t look like a team that had four veterans,” Kelley said. “We should have known how to handle the situation and bring everyone together.”
Every time the Colts would pull within three or four points on the offensive end, they would give up an open shot on the defense end.
The Panthers lead hit 10 points with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter following a West turnover.
The Colts committed 13 turnovers on the night that resulted in 16 points for Fleming.
Heading into the fourth quarter, West trailed 58-52 and Fain and Irgang were saddled with three fouls each.
Fain picked up his fourth just 27 seconds into the quarter and took a seat on the bench.
West was able to draw as close as five points on three occasions thanks to a couple of three-pointers by Daulton Peters. He finished with a double-double — 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Fain would end up fouling out on an offensive charge with three minutes remaining. He scored eight points and dished out four assists.
Fleming’s lead hit a game-high 12 points in the final minute of the game, but a Henderson three-pointer made it a 9-point final margin.
Henderson was the Colts leading scorer on the night with 21 points and was 4-for-9 from three-point range. He dished out seven assists, committed four turnovers and played all 32 minutes.
West Jessamine shot 8-for-24 from three-point range (33 percent) and 46 percent from the floor overall.
“Once they got the lead, in the middle of the third quarter, they packed it in tight on us and were basically going to make us shoot over them the rest of the night,” Kelley said. “That’s the advantage of having the lead ... It’s easy to look at it and say, ‘(West) was shooting too many threes,’ and we did — we took some that I didn’t like, but a lot of that was because Fleming was making us shoot from the perimeter.”
West Jessamine is on the road Thursday at Franklin County at 7:30 p.m. for the Flyers’ season opener.