Boyle boys bow to McCreary in first round of regional
Published 4:57 am Sunday, March 5, 2023
By MIKE MARSEE
STANFORD — The Boyle County Rebels didn’t do very much wrong, but they were never quite right.
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Handicapped by the loss of their leading scorer and point guard and hampered by a stomach bug making its way through the locker room, Boyle faced a taller task than expected in the boys 12th Region Tournament.
The Rebels stayed within reach of McCreary Central for most of the game but couldn’t muster enough offense to get on top and stay there as they fell 48-44 in a first-round game at Lincoln County.
But while they couldn’t find a way to extend their season, their coach couldn’t find fault with their final game.
“I was proud of them,” Boyle coach Dennie Webb said. “We could’ve easily felt sorry for ourselves, we could’ve folded. I thought they handled themselves real well.”
Boyle (15-15) was missing Montavin Quisenbery, the sophomore point guard who led the Rebels in scoring this season. Quisenberry sat out the game after suffering a left ankle sprain in practice earlier this week.
A couple of other players probably weren’t at their best, either, after falling ill, in at least one case on the day before the game.
Still, the Rebels took the fight to McCreary, and Webb said they had “a little bit of swagger” when they took the floor.
“They went right at them. We weren’t scared,” Webb said. “Kids played that hadn’t played a whole lot of minutes, and they played their tails off. It just came down to maybe a few times kids trying to do too much, but I can’t fault that because they’re trying to make plays.”
Boyle never trailed by more than five points, but it seldom held the lead. The Rebels were on top just twice for a total of 2:52.
The Rebels scored six straight points late in the third quarter to take their last lead, going up 38-37 on a turnaround jumper by Kason Myers with 5:35 remaining, and they got a chance to add to that lead following a turnover but missed a shot.
Peyton Higginbotham hit two free throws to put McCreary (22-11) back on top at 5:05, then got a layup on the Raiders’ next trip to make it 41-38.
Boyle got back to within one point on two occasions but never got another chance to regain the lead even though McCreary missed five of 10 free throws in the final 2:07.
Shooting was a problem for the Rebels for the second straight game. After hitting only 33 percent of their shots in a loss to Lincoln County in the 45th District final, they shot 31 percent overall and went 6 for 22 from 3-point range and 8 for 15 from the free-throw line, including 5 for 10 in the fourth quarter.
“That’s been who we are all year,” Webb said.
They also had a difficult time keeping McCreary’s Kyle Stephens, the 12th Region player of the year, away from the basket. Stephens scored eight of the Raiders’ first 12 points and finished with 27 points.
Myers had 13 points, Avery Bodner had 11 and Jack Little had 10 for Boyle.
“I hate that we lost, I hate it for the seniors,” Webb said. “We’ve got a great group that I’m going to miss dearly. But I’m happy for the way they went out (because) they battled.”
The five seniors were part of a blended Boyle team that included a key transfer (Quisenberry), two eighth-graders who got significant minutes and six football players who didn’t get into the gym until after that team’s state championship season ended.
The Rebels were 9-12 before winning six of seven games down the stretch prior to their two postseason losses.
“We did a lot of figuring things out on the fly,” Webb said. “We fit into some roles and we found rotations; it just took us a long time to get there,” Webb said. “That’s where the offseason will be important for us. Next year will be different for us.”