Lyons hold off Tigers, Riley's 29 in region tourney opener

BRYCE RUDD Photo/ Times Leader

Caldwell County senior Cayden Fraliex battles for a loose ball with Lyon County's Jackson Shoulders during the second half of the Region 2 Tournament opener.

At long last; this rivalry was renewed in its purest form with the stakes high as ever.

Long overdue for their first meeting against one another in Region 2 Tournament history, it finally happened for the Lyons and the Tigers on Thursday night.

Caldwell County and Lyon County did not disappoint night in the opening round of the Region 2 Tournament at Hopkinsville High School. Neither did their fans. Neither did their communities.

But only one team from this former District 5 rivalry would advance, and it was Lyon County moving on in their first Regional Tournament win since 2010 in a 65-59 thriller over the Tigers.

Adarius Riley went for a team-high 29 points (20 in the first half) in his final game as a Tiger, JaMarius Blaine went for 14 points and Tripp Branch and Cayden Fraliex added seven points each.

Cole Smiley had six rebounds in his final game with the Tigers, as Lyon County out rebounded Caldwell 37-24 in a key statistic.

The Tigers finished 7-of-13 from the free throw line.

Eighth-Grade sensation Travis Perry went for 30 points and nine rebounds for Lyon County, while sophomore Jackson Shoulders polished off an 11-rebound and 11-point double double and Nick Whalin finished with nine points and eight rebounds.

Brady Shoulders scored eight for Lyon County, including a pair of 3-pointers that came at significant times.

Lyon County and first-year head coach Ryan Perry would sweep the season series at 3-0, including a 59-57 opening night win in Princeton on December 3 and a heated rematch in Eddyville 68-57 in late January in a game that saw ejections and raw emotions.

The Lyons (23-9) have now won nine straight games and 12 of their last 13 including their second straight District 5 title win over Crittenden County, and now move on to Monday night's Region 2 semifinals in Hopkinsville against Webster County at 7:30 p.m. for a chance at their first Regional title since the early 1950s, while Caldwell County (16-16) and head coach Daniel Kukahiko had their District 7 runner-up season end after winning seven straight games to get over the .500 mark.

Caldwell County won their quarterfinal round a year ago against Union County but fell to University Heights Academy in the semifinals.

Lyon County's only loss in their last 13 games was a game against Calloway County in which Travis Perry did not play.

Neither team won a quarter by more than five points.

Shoulders took Fraliex down to the right block for the opening bucket at 2-0 in the first 30 seconds, while Adarius Riley got Caldwell on the board two and a half minutes in at 2-2 on a nifty floater, and fittingly so, as Riley would score 14 of the Tigers' first 16 points.

The Lyons had the next four points at 6-2 midway through one with a massive presence inside from Whalin and Shoulders.

As four different Lyons would score in the opening five minutes of the contest, Riley would come up with the first six by himself for the Tigers.

The Lyons led by as many as five in the first frame with Shoulders muscling inside.

A putback by Branch would continue the trend of points coming directly from the paint both ways, but the biggest shots of the early moments came from downtown.

Riley's triple cut it to 13-11 in the final 20 seconds of the quarter before Brady Shoulders answered right back just before the horn at 16-11 Lyon County heading to the second frame.

Lyon County led by as many as seven points in the first half, but it wouldn't stretch further than that either way.

Riley was certainly the aggressor for the Tigers, and nailed his second triple of the game to start the second.

Riley got to the rim on a spin cycle through two Lyon defenders and Fraliex knocked down an open triple for Caldwell's first lead of the night 21-20 midway through two to cap off an 11-3 run.

Brady Shoulders again answered from the right wing to regain the lead for the Lyons, and Perry's back to back triples near the end of the quarter sent the Lyons into the half narrowly up 31-29.

Riley singlehandedly kept the Tigers in the game with 20 first half points, while Perry scored six of his 12 first half points in the final minute of the first half.

Fraliex gathered up Branch's 3-point miss on a scoop to tie it at 31-31 to start the third quarter, and Blaine came into the scoring mix for the Tigers to give them their second lead on the night, but it would be their only lead the rest of the way.

Perry went for five straight and Whalin put home a layup midway through the third to give Lyon County a two-possession lead again at 42-37, preceding a wild and high octane sequence that saw Blaine's output increase with a finish a fast break and an and-1 to get Caldwell back within one.

The Lyons upped the lead back to seven momentarily at 48-41 but as both clubs continued to hit big shots, Blaine wouldn't let the Tigers slide any further at 50-45 Lyon County heading to the final eight minutes to save their season.

Riley cut it to three with seven minutes remaining, then to two with 5:33 to go on a hard nose drive to the rim.

Branch tied it on a cutback inside at 54-all midway through the fourth, only for Bingham to answer with a triple at 57-54 Lyon County.

Riley got himself another trip to the free throw line to keep the deficit at three points with two minutes, but Perry's cut to the rim at 61-56 Lyon County would begin a critical 4-0 run to push the lead back out to seven at 63-56 inside one minute remaining on free throws from Whalin.

Caldwell County got a triple to fall from Branch from the left corner to cut the deficit to four inside the final 30 seconds, but couldn't convert the ensuing possession after forcing a quick Lyon turnover. The Lyons closed with an 11-5 run.

Perry buried two free throws with 15 seconds left at 65-59 to seal it.

The Tigers came in shooting 46.8 percent on the season (35.2 percent behind the 3-point line) with 28.6 rebounds per game.

The Lyons came into Thursday night shooting 43 percent from the field on the season (30 percent from downtown) and averaging 33 team rebounds per contest.

Caldwell County will graduate four starters and six seniors in Cayden Fraliex, Cole Smiley, Adarius Riley, JaMarius Blaine, TJ Ray and Jude East.

The lone returning starter for 2020-2021 will be marksman shooter Tripp Branch.