BOWLING GREEN, Ky.
With its top scorer struggling with foul trouble and cold shooting, the Ashland Blazer High School girls’ basketball team needed a clutch performance from someone else.
Shelby Gransberry responded with what her coach called “the best game of her career, by far” and kept the Kittens’ season alive.
Gransberry, a 5-foot-11 junior, scored a career-high 24 points and added six rebounds and three blocks as Ashland Blazer upset No. 4-ranked Henderson County 56-48 on Wednesday in a first-round game of the Houchens Industries/KHSAA Sweet 16 at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Gransberry entered the game averaging 8.8 points but hit 8 of 12 shots from the field and all eight of her free throws — not bad for a player who was shooting just 51.8 percent from the line this season.
“She wasn’t timid at all, went to the basket, rebounded and really defended well,” Kittens coach Bill Bradley said.
Mykassa Robinson added 11 points, three assists and three steals as Ashland Blazer (25-8) advanced to face Danville in Friday’s 1 p.m. EDT quarterfinal.
Robinson’s sister, Alexis, averages a team-best 16.8 points and already has committed to Colorado as a junior. But she picked up three fouls in the first quarter, missed the entire second quarter and finished with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting.
“It was a little frustrating, but I knew my team could play and they had this,” Alexis Robinson said. “I’m not saying they didn’t need me, but they didn’t. They could do it themselves.”
Kacie Wallace scored 12 points to lead Henderson County (24-6), which shot just 34.6 percent. The smaller Lady Colonels were bothered by an Ashland Blazer team that started four players 5-10 or taller.
“They’re just taller all around than we are, and that did bother us, especially in our offense,” Lady Colonels coach Jeff Haile said.
Down 12-4 after the first quarter, Henderson County rallied for a 24-21 halftime lead as Alexis Robinson sat out the second quarter.
Wallace’s layup with 4:16 left in the third quarter gave the Lady Colonels a 38-28 lead, but the Kittens responded with a 27-5 run.
Alexis Robinson’s 3-point play gave Ashland Blazer the lead for good, 45-42, with 4:36 left. Gransberry added a 3-point play for a 50-43 lead with 3:40 left.
“I’m really proud of the way our team played today, especially with (Robinson) having to sit out,” said Gransberry, who sat out last season after transferring to Fairview before returning to Ashland Blazer this season. “We played good defense, and our offense just comes with it.”
After watching her team fall in the first round the past two years, Robinson was pleased to help the school get its first Sweet 16 victory since 1997.
“I was tired of getting here and losing our first game,” she said. “People were beginning to doubt us, and I was like, ‘It’s not going to happen this year.'”