Bobcats rally past Panthers, 57-53
Jay Compton Sports Editor
Bell County used the press to put together a 14-0 run late in the third quarter to tie their game at Cumberland Gap and a strong effort from the free throw line in the fourth quarter carried the Bobcats to a 57-53 win on Saturday.
Senior guard Tyler Potter, who scored a game-high 31 points, converted three-point plays on consecutive possessions to put the Bobcats on top 47-45 with 5:05 to play. It was Bell’s first lead since scoring the first seven points of the game.
Sophomore Hunter Bayless hit one free throw to bring the Panthers within one, but the Bobcats hit 10 of 12 free throws over the final 2:23 to pull out the four-point win. It was the first win of the season for Bell County.
“We needed this one though, we’ve got a district game coming up Tuesday and it’s away. Hopefully we get a little confidence from getting a win,” Bobcat coach Lewis Morris said. “It’s early and we’ve still got a long way to go, but we’ll get there eventually. We’re still not in great shape, but they fought. It was good for us to get down and come back. We looked a lot better in the second half.”
Cumberland Gap missed their first nine shots from the field as the Bobcats opened the game with a 7-0 run.
Senior guard Gavin Burns finally got the Panthers on the board with a 3-pointer at the 3:50 mark of the first quarter. Tyler Parker also hit a 3 and sophomore Bryce Sutton scored two inside baskets as the Panthers rallied to take a 10-7 lead after one.
“We started out and couldn’t hit a basket, but we kept fighting and played pretty good defense. We were trying to keep Potter from getting hot early and we did a good job of that,” Cumberland Gap coach Ernie Clawson said. “Second half, he got hot and that was the difference in the game. He was making shots and getting to the free throw line.”
A 3 from Bayless and a pair of layups from Burns pushed the Panther lead to 17-9 past the midway point of the second quarter. Zach Partin hit two free throws and Jake Patterson added a basket for Bell as the closed the gap to 19-17.
Aaron Jenkins hit two free throws and later drove in for a layup with 18.2 seconds left in the half. He was fouled and the Bobcats were called for a technical foul and Jenkins hit two of those three free throws as Cumberland Gap took a 27-20 lead into the half.
“Lewis does a very good job over there. I’m proud of my kids. We’ve got a lot of young kids and we’re growing every game. From the Knox Catholic game up until now, I’ve seen us get better every night,” Clawson said. “This same group of kids from Bell County beat my team last year by ten. (Saturday) we had a chance to beat them. I told my guys to keep their heads up because we’re going to get better and they’re going to start seeing the results.”
A Burns 3-pointer pushed the lead to ten and later Sutton hit a long two-pointer and Parker converted a three-point play that put the Panthers up 41-27 with 2:39 left in the third quarter.
That’s when the Bell press took over. Patterson hit a 3, then picked up a loose ball after a Partin deflection and took it in for a layup. Potter added a basket and Donovan Napier converted one steal into a layup and another led to a Potter basket. After a Panther miss, Potter nailed a 3 that tied the game at 41 with 25 seconds left in the period.
“Little Donovan comes in and he’ll put his nose in there. He’s a scrapper. Against teams that have got small guards he can help us this year because he’s quick enough most times to at least aggravate them and stay with them,” Morris said.
Sutton, who came in off the bench to lead the Panthers with 14 points, scored late in the period and Cumberland Gap was up 43-41 after three.
“Bryce Sutton came in and played extremely well. He got us going with a couple of shots under the basket. He gives us a big spark. The biggest thing with him is he’s a sophomore and he’s got to get stronger,” Clawson added. “That’s an exciting group, at one point we had three or four sophomores on the floor together. They’re competitors, they want to win and that’s exciting for the future here at Cumberland Gap.
“All-in-all I thought it was great team effort. We’ve just got to eliminate the mistakes in crucial situations and that’s our biggest problem.”
Sutton scored after grabbing an offensive rebound early in the fourth to put the Panthers up by four. But Potter converted those two three-point plays to give Bell County a lead they would never give up.
Two free throws by Potter and one by Chase Woolum pushed the lead to six with under a minute to play. Jenkins drove in for a basket, but Patterson hit two free throws. A Bayless 3 on a kick-out from Jenkins brought Cumberland Gap within 54-51 with under 30 seconds on the clock.
Napier hit one free throw before Jordan Bullins scored after grabbing an offensive rebound for the Panthers to make it a two-point game with 12 seconds to go. Patterson hit two more free throws to make it 57-53 with 6.9 seconds on the clock and Cumberland Gap’s last shot to cut into the lead was off the mark.
“We missed I bet ten or eleven, what do you call them crib shots, layups, in the first half and we couldn’t hit a free throw. Defensively in the second half I thought they played real well, especially in the last quarter when they had to get down and guard and keep people in front of them,” Morris said. “Ernie Mack does a great job, they run their stuff real well and they’re patient. We guarded one possession for about a minute and that’s a lot better than what we’ve been doing.
“We’ve just got to get in a lot better shape and get those kids that played football ready. We’ll get there, it may take us until mid-January but we’re going to keep working at it.”
Patterson finished with 13 points while Zach Partin added six and Napier five for the Bobcats.
Seniors Parker and Burns scored ten points each for the Panthers to join Sutton in double-figures. Bayless added nine points and Jenkins eight.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday with district double-headers as Cumberland Gap (1-3) hosts West Greene while Bell County (1-2) travels to Harlan.
— — —
|Bell County||7||13||21||16|| — ||57|
|Cumb. Gap||10||17||16||10|| — ||53|
BELL COUNTY (57) — Tyler Potter 31, Jake Patterson 13, Zach Partin 6, Chase Woolum 2, Cody Ferguson 0, Donovan Napier 5, Josh Asher 0, Cody Carnes 0, Trent Lefevers 0.
CUMBERLAND GAP (53) — Gavin Burns 10, Tyler Parker 10, Hunter Bayless 9, Adam Jenkins 8, Jodan Bullins 2, Bryce Sutton 14, Austin Anderson 0, Zach Wilhoit 0.
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