There’s not a whole lot separating the top few teams on the girls’ side of the 13th Region, but the Bell County Lady Cats cemented their status as the team to beat with Friday’s 57-54 win at Whitley County.
“This was a big win for us going into tournament play,” Bell coach David Teague said. “It’s good for our confidence that we able to fight back and get a win against a really good team on the road.”
The Lady Cats finish the regular season with a 22-4 record and have gone 17-1 against 13th Region foes. Bell County has won 14 of their last 15 games overall.
Whitley County has been playing well, too. The Lady Colonels are 23-6 and had won 10 of 11 going into Friday’s game.
Whitley led the Lady Cats most of the way. They were up 38-31 at the half and held a 12-point lead in the third quarter.
“We were down the majority of the game. My kids just kept battling and battling,” Teague said.
Maci Morris led the Lady Cats with 20 points, Morgan Garnett added 16 and Kelli Smith 14.
It was a back-and-forth game down the stretch and Bell County led it by one point in the closing seconds.
Whitley County was fouled late and had a chance to tie or take the lead, but missed both free throws. The Lady Cats came away with the rebound, got fouled and hit both of their free throws to set the final at 57-54.
The Lady Colonels did have a last-second shot to tie it, but the desperation heave was off the mark.
“The thing I’m really proud of is our defensive effort in the second half. We were down 38-31 at halftime, so we held them to just 16 points in the second half,” Teague said.
Bell County will play host Middlesboro in the first round of the 52nd District Tournament on Monday at 6 p.m.
Whitley County will play South Laurel in the first round of the 50th District Tournament on Monday at Corbin at 6:30 p.m.