The Pineville Mountain Lions and Middlesboro Yellow Jackets treated a large homecoming crowd at the Lion’s Den to a classic on Thursday. Middlesboro erased a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but Pineville got a free throw from Dalton Ledbetter with 15 seconds left in overtime to pull out an 81-80 win.
“I thought our kids gave a lot of effort and played tremendously well. They went through some adverse situations at the end but they just kept playing, that’s the sign of a team trying to mature a little bit,” Mountain Lion coach J.D. Strange said. “I’m excited about the win, the game could have obviously gone either way. It was two teams battling really hard.
“I know it was a great game to watch. It was a fun game to coach if you win, it’s a tough game to coach if you lose. I’ve been on both sides of that. But it was a good win for us.”
Both teams struggled from the free throw line for much of the game. The Lions hit just two of their ten attempts through through three quarters, but made 16 of 20 in the fourth and finished 23-of-38 overall. The Jackets went 27-of-49 from the line.
“They stepped up and hit free throws more consistently than we did tonight. I think we just left too many points at the free throw line,” Middlesboro coach Russell Thompson said. “In our last game against Jackson County we hit over 80-percent, tonight we left 22 points at the line and that’s what ended up costing us when the game goes to overtime and both teams play as hard as they did.”
Jacket senior Donnie Foister led all players with 40 points in the game. Austin Poindexter added 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Pineville was led by senior forward Conner Ford’s 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 14 rebounds. Isaac Longworth finished with 16 points and Cody Collett 10 while struggling with foul trouble.
The Lions opened the game with a 7-0 run, capped by a John Robbins 3-pointer. Ford scored six of his points in the first quarter and Longworth added five as Pineville led 16-6 after one quarter.
After starting out 2-for-9 from the field, Foister hit three 3s during an 11-2 run that gave Middlesboro a 26-23 lead with 2:52 left in the first half.
Foister scored 14 of his points in the second period, but Pineville got a late putback from Ledbetter and baskets from Jalen Byrd and Ford to carry a 30-28 lead into halftime.
The Lions hit nine of their 13 shots from the field in the third quarter. Collett scored six points as the lead grew to five and Scotty Hoskins hit a trey and later another basket to make it 50-40 after three quarters. Senior center Tyler Prater highlighted Middlesboro’s third period by hitting all four of his free throws.
A layup by Longworth pushed the lead to 12, but the Jackets forced ten turnovers in the fourth quarter and Foister scored 17 points as Middlesboro pulled even.
“Pineville shot the ball pretty well and we got down by ten or twelve a couple of times, but our defense did a good job of bringing pressure and we were able to finally tie it up,” Thompson said. “Donnie Foister really stepped up after a slow start. Austin, Prater and (Major) Edwards all did a good job on the boards. We had some opportunities and some shots that guys can normally hit just weren’t falling in tonight.”
Will Adams scored six of his eight points in the fourth quarter for Pineville and Longworth also scored six, including hitting all four of his free throws in the period. Ford went 7-for-8 from the line in the fourth and got behind the MHS press for a layup and a 72-68 lead with 51 seconds left in regulation.
“Conner always has a lot of energy and always brings good board play. Offensively, he’s been up and down at times but tonight he put it all together with 26 points and 14 rebounds. He played the full 36 minutes and he played hard,” Strange said. “He’s a big player for us, he doesn’t need to get 26 every night but he can get more consistent with his offensive contribution. Hopefully a big game like this will get him on that path.”
Brandon Hale hit a jumper and after another Pineville turnover, Foister connected on a floater in the lane to tie it at 72.
Ledbetter had sat out most of the fourth quarter, but drew a charge on the opening possession of overtime and then scored inside to put the Lions back in front.
Poindexter went 5-for-6 from the line, and hit two free throws to tie the game at 75 and 77. Poindexter also blocked a shot, but on the following in-bounds play Longworth found Ford for a short jumper.
A Longworth free throw made it 80-77, but Foister was fouled on a 3-point try with 33 seconds to go and hit all three free throws to again tie the score.
Ledbetter rebounded a Ford miss and put it back in, but the officials ruled he was fouled on the floor before going back up. The senior missed the first free throw, making him 0-4 in the game, but hit the second with 15.9 seconds to play for what proved to be the winning point.
“That’s not his strength, he was one for five from the line tonight. He had a tough time finishing around the basket at times, but he got a big offensive rebound there before he got fouled. That one free throw was a big one, he’s forgiven for the other four,” Strange added with a smile.
Middlesboro had a chance to tie it, but the Lions did a good job of keeping the ball out of Foister’s hands. Poindexter had to drive in from the wing and got a decent look at a jumper with four Lions collapsing around him. It was just off the mark and Abhishek Singh’s put-back attempt was thwarted by Adams and time ran out before the Jackets could get off another shot.
“It was anybody’s game there at the end, Poindexter took the ball in and got a good look that just didn’t fall,” Thompson said. “I’d like to see the ball in Donnie’s hands there to see if can get in the lane and create, but they did a good job of chasing him and keeping it out of his hands.”
Pineville hit 27 of their 49 shots from the field (55 percent) while Middlesboro was 24-61 (39 percent). The Lions enjoyed a 42-36 rebounding edge while committing 20 turnovers to the Jackets’ 13.
“We got a lot of contributions from kids off the bench that hadn’t been playing much: Tucker (Woolum)’s defense on Donnie, not so much stopping him but disrupting the flow of some things; Will Adams played well; Hoskins and Byrd, they all played well. We all made some mistakes, but they played through that and didn’t let it bog us down,” Strange said.
The game kicked off a stretch of 12 games in 23 days for Pineville (7-10). The Lions host Corbin Friday at 6 p.m. and will host Clay County on Tuesday.
Middlesboro (4-14) has a week of district home games coming up. They’ll host Harlan County on Monday, Harlan on Wednesday and Bell County on Friday.
“These guys keep coming in and working hard every day, they don’t miss practice and they try to do everything I say. They want to win as bad as I do and hopefully the next time we’ll be able to win one of these close ones,” Thompson said.
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Donnie Foister 13-26 9-15 40, Austin Poindexter 3-8 11-18 17, Tyler Prater 1-2 4-4 6, Major Edwards 3-5 1-2 7, Justin Miracle 1-10 1-2 3, Brandon Hale 3-7 1-4 7, Tyshon Kincaide 0-2 0-4 0, Abhishek Singh 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-61 27-49 80.
Conner Ford 9-13 8-10 26, Isaac Longworth 4-8 7-8 16, Dalton Ledbetter 3-7 1-5 7, Cody Collett 4-6 2-7 10, John Robbins 2-6 0-0 6, Scotty Hoskins 2-5 0-0 5, Will Adams 2-2 4-6 8, Tucker Woolum 0-1 0-0 0, Jalen Byrd 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 27-49 23-38 81.
|3-point goals: MHS 5-21 (Foister 5-10, Miracle 0-6, Hale 0-3, Poindexter 0-2); PHS 4-13 (Robbins 2-5, Longworth 1-4, Hoskins 1-4). Rebounds: MHS 36 (Poindexter 13, Edwards 5, Prater 5); PHS 42 (Ford 14, Ledbetter 8, Longworth 5, Robbins 5). Assists: MHS 12 (Foister 5, Hale 3); PHS 14 (Longworth 5, Collett 3). Turnovers: MHS 13, PHS 20. Total fouls: MHS 30, PHS 29. Fouled out: MHS (Prater, Edwards, Hale); PHS (Hoskins, Robbins, Collett, Woolum).|