SUMMIT, Ky. — Hunter Gillum changed the course of Ashland’s district fortunes without scoring a point.
The senior entered his final 64th District Tournament and his high-octane energy made an immediate impact in the third quarter.
The Tomcats trailed the entire first half and didn’t take their first lead until a Cole Villers bucket one minute into the second half.
Gillum’s intensity and effort were the main reason he didn’t leave the floor in the second half. He found the scoring column, too, in the final frame. Gillum came off the bench to score five points and the Tomcats withstood a furious Boyd County comeback attempt to win 69-64 on Thursday night at Boyd County Middle School.
Ashland won its second straight 64th District title.
The Tomcats held a 64-53 lead after a pair of Ryan Atkins free throws. Brad Newsome answered with an and-1. It started an 11-3 run that culminated in a Rheyce Deboard 3 from the top of the key to pull the Lions within two.
After a free throw, Boyd County’s final long ball could not find its mark and Colin Porter sealed it at the line. The sophomore hit all 12 of his free throw attempts.
Unofficially, Porter led Ashland with 24 points. Villers added 20 points.
Boyd County (14-9) opened the contest hitting seven of its first 11 shots. Deboard and Carson Webb each netted eight points in the frame to stake the Lions to a 20-12 after the first eight minutes.
Webb scored his 1,000th career point in the third stanza.
The margin stayed at eight until Boyd County was whistled for an intentional foul at the 4:53 mark of the second stanza. Porter sank both free throws. The play highlighted a 7-0 Tomcats run that closed the deficit to two.
The two teams traded baskets to close out the first half. Graden McNeil splashed two corner 3-balls to extend Boyd County’s lead to five but Ethan Sellars dropped in a floater and Atkins hit two from the charity stripe with no time remaining on the second quarter clock to bring Ashland (17-4) within a point at intermission.
Both teams move on next week’s 16th Region Tournament at Morehead State University.
Deboard scored a team-high 17 points. Webb collected 12.