On a crisp Wednesday morning in Richmond, the Lyon County Lady Lyons (9-10) made their second appearance in three seasons at the All-A Classic State Tournament. And with so many underclassmen on the roster, there’s a chance the Lady Lyons could be back here next year.
The opponent this time, was enigma Region 16 champion West Carter (12-5), who came into the tournament for a fourth straight season.
Separated by 14 regions and several hundred miles in the state, the only thing separating the two teams on this day at McBrayer Arena in Eastern Kentucky was the scorebook table.
With a four-guard lineup, West Carter shook off the early moments and with 17 steals combined, advanced to another second round game in the All-A State Tournament, but it didn’t come without a strong first punch from Lyon County in a 64-40 opening round loss.
Rose Smith would lead the Lady Lyons with 12 points and 8 rebounds. Calista Collins added 9 rebounds and 9 points just short of a double-double. Cathryn Brown contributed 7 points. Ella Defew chipped in 7 as well, and Hadlie Butler was the fifth Lady Lyon to score, adding 5 points for a team that stayed cold from the field at 36 percent.
Lyon Could would win the rebounding story 35-30 despite the turnovers.
Allie Stone would put up 11, and Becca Nolen had a game-high 14 points for West Carter, who had a bevy of other contributors averaging just under 9 points per game.
It was Lyon County’s fourth appearance since 2006, when they fell to Paintsville and first since 2018.
The other All-A Region 2 title for the Lady Lyons came back in 2007, when they made the semifinals after taking out Cumberland County and Kentucky Country Day.
Two years ago, the Lady Lyons fell to Williamsburg 46-32, struggling to put up points in this one as well.
“We came out of halftime, and we found the combination that came to play,” Lady Lyon head coach Jeff Doom said. “The defense stepped up in the second half, and we can look for all the excuses in the world in the first half, but we just didn’t get out of bed to come to play.
“We played a little soft and a little timid and when you do that at this level, you aren’t going to stay very long and we didn’t stay very long.”
Collins would draw first blood for the Lady Lyons at 2-0 in the opening minutes and after Kylie Gilliam answered for West Carter, Lyon County would take another lead at 4-2 on great hustle by Smith.
The Lady Lyons would lead twice in the opening moments, but would never lead again after that.
West Carter claimed a 7-4 lead on a triple by Allie Stone (18.6 points per game), and never let go after a 12-0 run midway through the first frame.
Smith stopped the bleeding with a jumper late in the frame to keep Lyon County’s deficit manageable at 14-6 after 8 minutes.
Katie Chandler brought the lead back to 10 on a steal and score for West Carter, and after it was thought that free throws would be the telltale statistic of this game — 75 percent shooting for West Carter and 55 percent shooting for the Lady Lyons this season — the telling stat was 29 turnovers, with the Lady Comets scoring off over half of them.
Lyon County didn’t get a free throw in the entire first half.
West Carter had the lead out to 16 midway through the second quarter, and with backdoor cuts and their pace of basketball, a second 10-0 run at 24-8 had the Lady Comets in the drivers seat most of the first half.
Another backdoor cut by Nolan gave her double figures as the lead got to 23, and Smith and Collins would combine for 6 points each in the first 16 minutes for all 12 Lyon County points as they trailed 36-12 into the locker room off a 22-6 quarter from the Comets.
Collins picked off a pass at the free throw line to start the second half, but Stone’s 11th point put the Lady Lyons in the danger zone down by 27.
Smith would continue to be the highlight for the Region 2 All-A Champion, getting her eighth point of the contest midway through three in a game where they couldn’t get many shots off.
Down by 29 points, Collins would make the first free throws of the game for Lyon County, and Hadlie Butler cut into the deficit inside to get the Lyon faithful roaring on a 10-0 run at 41-22, but the Lady Comets built the lead back to 49-22 heading to the fourth quarter.
West Carter, All-A State championship runner-ups in 2002, would go on to win their sixth straight game and their 10th in their last 11 games.
Ella Defew would get into the scoring column as well for Lyon County, and a steal and assist from Defew midway through the fourth gave Brown her seventh point of the game after spending so much energy on defense most of the game, but it wouldn’t be enough to overcome the double digit deficit of 15-plus points that West Carter built in a hurry back in the first quarter.
Ashlyn Doom, Taylyn Sutton, Isabella Ortiz, Kayden Watts and Ashleigh Butts and the Lady Lyon seniors would see the court for their final time in Richmond as well in the final frame.
“We had to come with pressure late, and you see why we don’t pressure a lot, because we gave up layup after layup with points in the paint,” Doom added. “You have to try to press and force a couple of turnovers to get yourselves back in position to get back into the game, and I thought we scored well in the second half, we just couldn’t get a stop when we needed a stop.
“There’s no excuse for experience, you just can’t change anything there and you can tell that they were calm and relaxed on the floor. Their game plan was carried out better than what ours was ready for. I really wanted this group to come out here and give that Caldwell effort and I still believe that if we would have given that effort, it’s a different outcome. It’s still a great experience for our girls.”
West Carter 14 22 13 15 — 64
Lyon County 6 6 10 18 — 40
Lyon County (9-10) — Smith 12, Collins 9, Brown 7, Defew 7, Butler 5.