High School Basketball

Sweet Sixteen a surprise to coach who lost seven seniors from last year’s team

Gunner Short averages 17.9 points per game to lead Boyd County.
Gunner Short averages 17.9 points per game to lead Boyd County. Ashland Daily Independent

The 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen basketball state tournament tips Wednesday at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

Below is the team profile for the Boyd County Lions, who will meet Fern Creek in the first round at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.


Region: 16th

Record: 29-6

Enrollment: 889 (492 boys)

Coach’s résumé

Randy Anderson is 161-95 in eight seasons with the Lions.

Probable starters

4) Blake Stewart 6-2 So. 12.8 ppg

13) Taylor Smith, 5-10, Sr., 12.6 ppg

22) Reese Robinson, 6-4, Sr., 15.5 ppg

34) Gunner Short, 6-4, Sr., 17.9 ppg

44) Talbott Taylor, 6-3, Jr., 7.5 ppg

How they got here

Boyd County enters the Sweet Sixteen on a 13-game winning streak, culminating in a 54-49 win over Ashland Blazer in the 16th Region finals. Boyd played Blazer five times during the season and lost the first two matchups, the second in a blowout right after losing an overtime title game to them in a holiday tournament.

Players to watch

Boasting four players averaging in double figures in scoring, Gunner Short is the Lions’ leading producer and lone college commit, so far (Rio Grande). Short has the ability to make a three-pointer, but excels getting into his mid-range game and driving to the basket, Anderson said. Fellow wingman Reese Robinson is “extremely athletic, really good at getting big rebounds or finishing shots, especially against some of the athletic teams that we’ve had to play this year,” Anderson said.

Unexpected season

Last year, Anderson graduated seven seniors off the best team he had put on the court yet, and it came up short of the Sweet Sixteen despite going 26-7. “You take a team that was that successful and lost those types of pieces (and) for this team to jel and those guys fitting right in like they’d always been there, to me, that’s a real compliment to those kids,” Anderson said. “In all honesty, just looking at our schedule, it was tough when you go down through there with the Ballards and the Pikevilles, Huntington Heights and those people … we were really just wanting to get to .500, you know, and be jelled and ready come district and region time.” Consider this team jelled and ready.

Sweet history

This is Boyd County’s 11th trip to the Sweet Sixteen and its first since 2000 when it dominated the 16th Region earning three trips in a row.

Chris Ware | Herald-Leader staff
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