The Bell County Bobcats squandered a big early lead, but regained their footing in the fourth quarter to pull out a 65-57 win over Middlesboro on Monday.
Bell hit nine of their first 13 shots from the field and forced six Jacket turnovers in the first quarter. Tyler Potter scored 14 of his game-high 29 points in the opening period, including 3-pointers that gave the Bobcats leads of 16-2 and 19-4.
Major Edwards scored the first four MHS points and Donnie Foister hit a trey at around the 2:00 mark that made it 19-7. Bell County got a 3 from Donovan Napier followed by a steal and a layup from Cody Ferguson to take their biggest lead of the night at 24-7, before Foister converted a three-point play to make it 24-10 after one quarter.
Chase Woolum’s basket put the Bobcats up 26-10 at the 6:28 mark of the second period, but 5:00 of the game clock would run off before Bell County scored again.
The Jackets started shading their match-up zone heavily toward Potter, using one man to guard against the outside shot and a second to cut off his driving lanes to the basket. The scheme had nearly the same effect as using a chaser with Potter getting doubled every time he touched the ball.
“We just wanted to limit his touches and make him work for every possession he got. And still, he got loose on us a few times,” Middlesboro coach Russell Thompson said. “Potter has put enough time in the game that he can hurt you with that. They had to do the same against Foister, both of those senior guards stepped up and put on a good show in front of this crowd for both sides. They battled and that’s to be respected.”
Bell County missed four straight shots from the field along with one free throw and also turned the ball over five times as Middlesboro climbed back into the game. Austin Poindexter hit both ends of the bonus to start a 13-0 Jacket run that included eight straight points from Foister. Single free throws by Tyshon Kincaide and Tyler Prater made it 26-23 with 1:38 to play in the first half.
“They changed defenses on us and we absolutely had no execution whatsoever. We kept shooting bad shots — I could have called two or three time outs but they’ve got to learn sometime how to play,” Morris said. “You’ve got to have a leader out there on the floor and right now we don’t have anybody who communicates and talks. They threw a little gimmick at us and we missed some easy shots. It was kind of disappointing, not that they came back on us, but the way were executing in that second quarter.
“If I don’t have some kids step up and start hitting wide open jump shots, we’ll start holding it. If they play a defense like that and we’ve got a lead, we’ll start pulling it out on people. I like playing like that anyhow.”
Senior forward Jake Patterson ended the Bobcat drought with a 3-pointer, but Poindexter drove the lane for a bucket and Justin Miracle sank a 3 to pull Middlesboro within 29-28. Jacob Hunley’s putback made it 31-28 at the half.
Bell’s scoring woes continued for most of the third quarter and two baskets from Prater gave the Jackets their first lead at 32-31 with 4:20 left in the third quarter. The teams traded points the rest of the period until Foister converted a three-point play and then turned a steal into a layup to give Middlesboro a 41-38 lead with under a minute to go in quarter.
“They’ve got two of the better players in the region and Middlesboro is athletic as anybody in our area. They’re a hard guard for us, but we kind of quit on defense a little bit,” Morris said. “We’ve got to learn from it and get a little bit better.”
Patterson, who went 3-for-4 from long range and finished with 15 points, tied the game with a trey from the wing off a kick out from Zach Partin. But Miracle answered with a late 3 of his own an the Jackets carried a 44-41 lead into the fourth quarter.
Patterson hit two free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound and then drew a charge on the defensive end. Potter was able to get off a mid-range jumper before the Jackets could set up their defense and the Bobcats were back in front 45-44 with 6:20 to play.
A Poindexter free throw tied the game, but Potter again got down the court quickly and scored and the Bobcats led the rest of the way.
Middlesboro got as close as 49-48 after another three-point play by Foister and a reverse layup by Prater cut the lead to 54-52 with 2:39 to go.
The Jackets set up their press and forced Bell to use a time out, but Potter added a layup on a give-and-go with Partin and the Bobcats hit six straight free throws — two each from Patterson, Woolum and Ben Collett — to put the game away.
“(Bell County) was able to take care of the ball and get in to the post where they were able to draw some fouls. We were not able to get the ball into the painted area (down the stretch). Ultimately, I think that was the difference in the ball game,” Thompson said. “They were able to break through our pressure and draw the foul. They knocked them down at the free throw line so congratulations to them.”
Foister finished with 25 points to lead the Jackets while Poindexter scored 12 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
“Our guys came to compete and it was sort of the same deal we had at Harlan County. We put ourselves in position to win a district game, but at the end we’ve got find a way to get Poindexter more involved in those last four minutes,” Thompson said. “I know we lost on the scoreboard, but our kids saw how good we can be if we play as a team and play strong. Imagine if we would put that together for four quarters instead of just three. This group is still learning how to win, but they took a step in the right direction.”
Partin scored all five of his points in the fourth quarter and also contributed with a blocked shot, three rebounds and three assists in the period as the Bobcats regained the lead.
“Zach is doing a good job, he’s still young and can get in foul trouble by not sliding and moving up, but he rebounds hard. He’s kind of a hard match-up for a lot of kids because he can play out on the floor and he’s got a little bit of size to him,” Morris said. “He made some plays for us. We’ve got to get production from a couple of other spots.”
Both teams will be back in action on Tuesday with Bell County (8-6, 3-0 in district play) hosting Oneida Baptist and Middlesboro (3-11, 0-2) hosting Corbin.
“We’re glad we’ve won the games we’re supposed to, they’ve been home games. The next ones are on the road and they’re going to be harder,” Morris added. “We’ll take where we’re at, but we’ve got to get a lot better. It’s a tough January we’ve got coming up.”
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|Bell County 65, Middlesboro 57|
MIDDLESBORO (3-11, 0-2) — Donnie Foister 8-16 6-7 25, Brandon Hale 1-4 0-0 2, Tyler Prater 3-5 1-4 7, Austin Poindexter 4-6 4-6 12, Major Edwards 2-4 0-0 4, Tyshon Kincaide 0-0 1-2 1, Justin Miracle 2-2 0-0 6.
Totals 20-37 12-19 57.
BELL COUNTY (8-6, 3-0) — Tyler Potter 12-24 3-4 29, Chase Woolum 2-5 2-2 6, Josh Asher 0-3 1-2 1, Jake Patterson 3-8 6-7 15, Ben Collett 0-0 2-2 2, Donovan Napier 1-1 0-0 3, Cody Ferguson 1-1 0-0 2, Zach Partin 2-3 1-3 5, Jacob Hunley 1-1 0-0 2.
Totals 22-46 15-19 65.
|3-pointers — MHS 5-11 (Foister 3-7, Miracle 2-2, Hale 0-1, Poindexter 0-1); Bell 6-14 (Patterson 3-4, Potter 2-6, Napier 1-1, Woolum 0-2, Asher 0-1). Rebounds —MHS 25 (Poindexter 11, Prater 5, Edwards 5); Bell 24 (Patterson 7, Partin 4). Assists —MHS 8 (Foister 3), Bell 12 (Woolum 4, Partin 4). Turnovers —MHS 21, Bell 11. Fouled out — MHS (Edwards, Prater); Bell (none). Total fouls —MHS 20, Bell 21.|