Knox Central got 18 points apiece from Matthew Barger and Jeffrey Adams on Saturday as they pulled away in the second half for a 72-45 win over Pineville in the 51st District opener for both teams.
The Mountain Lions erased an early 10-point deficit and got two baskets from Cody Collett and one from Dalton Ledbetter to close within 18-14 after one quarter.
Tucker Woolum scored with 6:20 to play in the first half to tie the game at 21. The Panthers got baskets from Adams and Zach Earls to go back up by four. Collett, who led the Lions with 18 points, then hit a 3 followed by a floater in the lane to put Pineville on top 26-25 at the 4:30 mark of the second quarter.
“We got down real early, but we bounced back. We changed our tempo a little bit, we got everybody involved and we got back in the ballgame,” Pineville coach J.D. Strange said. “We were able to spread the floor and isolate certain players, it got us back into it.”
Adams answered with a basket to put the Panthers in front and by halftime their lead was 32-26.
Knox hit six of their first seven shots in the third quarter to take control of the game. Barger scored four points during the 11-4 spurt and Dustin Hensley capped it with a 3-pointer to put the Panthers up 43-30 with 5:15 to go in the period.
“We had some turnovers that led to easy buckets for them. They built the margin up and then we started to panic a little bit. We felt like we had to make a ten-point play each trip and we just got down further,” Strange said.
Chad Marsee scored six of his eight points in the third quarter and grabbed four of his game-high eight rebounds and the Central lead was 54-38 after three. Pineville was never able to get closer than 15 points in the final period as the Panthers pulled away to win it by 27.
“It’s a learning process for us, but overall I was pleased with how we were able to bounce back at times. It was also a good game for us to learn from — we’ve got to get back on defense, stop penetration, take care of the ball better. If we handle it right, hopefully it will make us better,” Strange added.
Pineville played without senior forward Conner Ford.
“Conner had an appointment for a scholarship interview that had been set in stone for months. Of course we had to reschedule the game and didn’t know Conner’s situation,” Strange said. “Obviously we missed him, but at the same time we know when he gets back it will make us that much stronger.”
Pineville (5-7, 0-1 in district play) will return to action on Thursday at Lynn Camp and then host Barbourville on Friday. Knox Central (6-7, 1-0) was scheduled to host Barbourville on Tuesday and then play at Lynn Camp on Friday.
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KNOX CENTRAL (72) — Jeffrey Adams 18, Matthew Barger 18, Chad Marsee 8, Dustin Hensley 10, Nathan Cole 4, Zach Earls 5, Hunter Tye 4, Jacob Nelson 4, Jeremy Stewart 1, Blaine Wyatt 0, Austin Hobbs 0, Tanner Wells 0, Delonie Graham 0.
PINEVILLE (45) — Cody Collett 18, Isaac Longworth 4, Dalton Ledbetter 9, John Robbins 6, Will Adams 0, Tucker Woolum 4, Keith Sexton 2, Joseph Simpson 2, Jalen Byrd 0, Thomas Brock 0, John Sproles 0, Jacob Shackleford 0.