Barbourville edges Jackets
With 16.5 seconds remaining in the game, Middlesboro found themselves trailing Barbourville by three. Coming out of a timeout, the Jackets inbounded the ball from the baseline. Middlesboro found Drake Thomas at the top of the key, and he launched a 3-pointer.
The shot was a clean miss, but Jabari Kyle grabbed the rebound and was fouled. The sophomore point guard missed the front end of the bonus and the Tigers grabbed the rebound. The missed shot and free throw secured what would eventually be a 54-53 victory for Barbourville on Friday.
The loss was a heart breaker for Middlesboro who was trying to extend their winning streak to three games after defeating Claiborne, Tennessee and Pineville earlier in the week.
“The Barbourville kids, they wanted the ball. They attacked,” said Middlesboro coach Lewis Morris. “We had way too many unforced turnovers. We missed too many easy shots. We made turnovers when there was no sense in it — just bad fundamentals.
“Offensive rebounds, (Barbourville) kicked our hind ends all night. They’re just a tougher team than we are. That’s been happening a lot. We just ain’t figured it out yet. In order for use to win the close games and win against better teams, we’ve got to be tougher than everyone else and right now we’re not. We’re just not tough enough.”
Drake Thomas was a bright spot in the Middlesboro offense shooting 50 percent from the field on his way to a game-high 31 points. He went 7-for-14 from beyond the arc and 2-for-2 from the charity stripe. He also led the team in rebounds with seven.
“(Drake) shot the ball well tonight. I thought he played hard on defense. I thought he rebounded,” said Morris. “He played a good game. If it wasn’t for him, we would’ve been in trouble. I thought he gave good energy tonight. He was active.”
Christian Hubbard ended the game with 13 points on six field goals. Jabari Kyle could only chip in three points.
Christian Bunch paced Barbourville with 18 points. Shawn Vaughn added 16 points off the bench. Trenton Schall chipped in nine points.
With 5:41 remaining in the second, Middlesboro held a 15-8 lead. The Tigers went on an 8-0 run with a layup from Schall giving Barbourville a 16-15 lead. A layup from Thomas returned the lead to the Yellow Jackets before a pair of free throws gave Barbourville an 18-17 lead.
Hubbard’s layup with 1:47 remaining gave Middlesboro a 19-18 lead. A 7-0 run near the end of the quarter gave the Jackets a 24-20 lead. Bunch hit a layup to cut the lead to two before a Thomas 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Jackets a 27-22 lead heading into halftime.
The two teams drew even in the third quarter scoring 13 points apiece to give Middlesboro a 39-35 advantage going into the final quarter.
An and-1 from Bunch and a layup from Vaughn tied the game at 40-40 early in the fourth quarter. The Jackets responded with a 3-pointer from Thomas and a put-back from Hubbard that gave Middlesboro a 45-42 lead with just under five minutes remaining.
Consecutive baskets from Vaughn and a layup from Jacob Helton gave Barbourville a 49-45 lead with 2:12 remaining. Thomas hit a 3-pointer to return the lead to one, but an and-1 from Bain gave the Tigers a 52-48 lead with 1:08 left to go in the game.
Andrew Padgett scored on a layup to cut the lead to two with 53.5 seconds remaining. Creg Gray missed one of his two free throw attempts with just over 25 seconds left to give the Jackets a chance to tie the game.
A missed 3-pointer by Thomas and a missed free throw from Kyle with 4.7 seconds essentially sealed the game. Bain was fouled with 2.5 seconds, and he hit one of his two free throws to give the Tigers a 54-50 lead.
Kyle hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the final deficit to one.
Middlesboro (12-14) was slated to battle Red Bird (8-17) on Monday.
Barbourville (12-13) was slated to host Williamsburg (12-15) on Monday.
Barbourville 54, Middlesboro 53
Connor Bain 1 3-5 5, Christian Bunch 7 3-4 18, JD McVey 0 1-2 1, Jacob Helton 2 0-0 4, Trenton Schall 4 0-0 9, Shawn Vaughn 7 0-0 16, Creg Gray 0 1-4 1. Totals: 21 8-15 54.
Jabari Kyle 1 0-1 3, Christian Hubbard 6 0-3 13, Drake Thomas 11 2-2 31, Steven Poore 0 0-0 0, Andrew Padgett 1 0-1 2, Jordan Davis 1 0-0 2, Eric Helton 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 2-7 53.
Barbourville 6 16 13 19 — 54
Middlesboro 13 14 13 13 — 53
3-point goals: Barbourville 4 (Vaughn 2, Bunch 1, Schall 1), Middlesboro 9 (Thomas 7, Hubbard 1, Kyle 1).
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN