LOUISA, Ky. – Junior Koleston Blankenship stole the basketball and drove the court for a layup to give the Belfry Pirates a lead with under :30 seconds left in the semi-finals of the 60th District tournament. The speedy guard hit a big 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter that BHS Coach Mark Thompson feels changed the momentum of the hard-fought tourney game.
Belfry was able to hold on and defeat the Pike County Central Hawks 56-52 on Wednesday night in a game played at Lawrence County High School’s gym.
“Ryan Jessie played a really good game on defense and with rebounds,” Thompson added. “He is a tough kid.” Jessie received a big gash over his eye diving for a loose rebound, but got checked out, bandaged up and came back out and finished the game. In fact, Jessie received six stitches today to close up the cut over his eye.
“Devin Varney had a good game too,” Thompson said. “It was a good team effort.” Varney scored 13 points, while Blankenship led the way with 17 points and eight rebounds.
But the first half was not what Coach Thompson had wanted heading into tournament play. “We didn’t shoot the ball well early in the game and we did not do a good job of taking care of the ball. We turned it over too many times,” Thompson emphasized.
Belfry had 10 first half turnovers. “We hadn’t been doing that. We had been doing a good job of handling the basketball, but not in the first half of this game,” Thompson said.
The Pirates started the game playing a match-up zone, but at halftime coach Thompson and his staff made an adjustment. “We went to man-to-man in the second half and that made a difference,” he stressed.
But the second half the Pirates showed they have backbone and guts. Belfry fought back against their arch rival Pike Central. “We had just enough time to take the lead and pull out the win,” Thompson added. “We played much better in the second half. Our kids showed a lot of heart.”
“The Wallace kid is tough,” Thompson said of the Hawks. “Those kids played hard. It’s a good rivalry.”
Blake Wallace led the Hawks with a game-high 18 points, while Ryan Eads scored 14. Both are seniors and ended their careers for PCC. Both Eads and Wallace pulled down 10 rebounds. Pike Central finished the season at 16-15.
Austin Woolum and Isiah Roblee, a pair of guards, both added nine points for Belfry.
Belfry shot 24-49 from the floor for 49 percent, including 4-13 from behind the arc. The Pirates were 4-9 at the foul line.
Pike Central was 19-45 for 42 percent, including 2-14 from long distance and 12-16 at the free throw line.
PCC had 13 turnovers, while Belfry finished the game with 10, all of those coming in the first half.
The win puts Belfry (14-16) into the 60th District championship game Friday night against the host Bulldogs of Lawrence County. Tip-off for that game will be about 8:15 p.m.
The two teams split their regular season games with Belfry winning the first game 77-72 and Lawrence County winning the second contest 80-76.
Score by quarters:
60th District Tournament
Pike Cen.(16-15): 13 18 9 12 – 52
Belfry (14-16): 16 9 12 19 – 56
Pike Central: Conn 7, Eads 14, Wallace 18, May 6, Adkins 7.
Belfry: Woolum 9, Catron 3, Roblee 9, Jessie 1, Blankenship 17, Varney 13, James 4.
Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.