High School Basketball

Girls' Sweet 16: Magoffin County girls 'stand tall,' oust Ashland's Kittens

Magoffin County's Morgan Arnett (5) and Madison Reed (15) teamed up to deny Ashland Blazer's Sydney Cullop in their first-round game in Bowling Green Thursday.
Magoffin County's Morgan Arnett (5) and Madison Reed (15) teamed up to deny Ashland Blazer's Sydney Cullop in their first-round game in Bowling Green Thursday. ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOWLING GREEN — The message printed on the back of their warmup T-shirts said it all: "We are Magoffin."

Less than a week after storms ravaged much of the area, Magoffin County's Lady Hornets won another basketball game for the community.

Jamie Castle scored 24 points and Madison Reed had a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds as Magoffin held off Ashland Blazer 63-59 in a first-round matchup Thursday in the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen.

"It's been our cry for the last few days that 'We are Magoffin,' and we will not quit," Coach Steve Miller said in explaining the shirt slogan. "We are Eastern Kentucky and we will stand tall and we will fight all the way until the end."

The Hornets (29-4) thus advanced to Friday's quarterfinals in E.A. Diddle Arena.

Jazzy Howard added nine points for Magoffin. Morgan Connelley had 11 rebounds, four assists and a point, while blocking three shots.

Miller delivered a message to his players earlier in the day.

"The last thing I told them before we crawled on the bus to go back (to Diddle) and watch the afternoon session, I said 'we didn't come down here just to show up and get a T-shirt and go to the house,'" Miller said. "'We came down here to represent, win a couple basketball games and keep playing until the final or we get beaten out."

Ashland wanted the same, though, and looked to be in line for the victory for a time.

"It came down to making shots," Kittens Coach Bill Bradley said. "They shot the ball better than we did tonight."

Ashland shot 24-for-77 (31.2 percent), while Magoffin fired 21-for-48 (43.8 percent). The Hornets also cashed in on 20 of 27 from the foul line, where Ashland went 9-for-11.

The Kittens (29-7) got 17 points from Sydney Cullop and 12 from Alexis Robinson. Julia Heablerlin had nine rebounds and four points.

Ashland led 28-23 at halftime.

Castle, with two fouls, played only seven minutes in the half, but her teammates kept the game close.

"I couldn't be any prouder," Castle said. "I'm just glad that they didn't back down, kept going."

Reed, a 5-foot-7 sophomore averaging 12.7 points, scored 13 in the third quarter to spark Magoffin's rally.

The Hornets overtook Ashland, 34-33, on Castle's layup with 4:50 left in the third. Reed followed with a trey.

Ashland came back to tie at 39 and 43, and was within 52-51 when Cullop dropped in two free throws with 1:45 left.

Magoffin scored the next seven points, though, all at the free-throw line. Castle hit the first four, Reed added two and Connelley scored her only point with 44.6 seconds left.

Ashland got as close as 62-59 on Robinson's basket with eight seconds left.

Castle made it a four-point game with a free throw with 2.2 on the clock, though.

"We ended their opportunities in the fast break, and I thought that was the difference in the game," Miller said of the second-half charge. "We told our kids that we were only going to send two kids to the offensive boards and everybody else was supposed to retreat, get back in the paint and protect the basket."

They did.

They are Magoffin.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader