CORBIN — Survive and advance is what the postseason is all about, and that’s just what the Bell County Bobcats did on Friday. It wasn’t an exhibition of beautiful basketball, but a strong defensive effort and some timely baskets in transition were enough as the Bobcats held on for a 49-45 win over Barbourville in the first round of the 13th Region Tournament.
Bell County hit 15 of 36 shots from the field (42 percent) and 16 of 21 free throws to get the win.
“This time of year it doesn’t matter how you move on as long as you move on,” Bobcat coach Lewis Morris said. “Hopefully the score is going to be low (Saturday) when we play. We don’t want to get up in the 80s and 90s like those teams can.”
Bell County (21-10) advances to play Corbin semifinals on Saturday at 8 p.m. Corbin pulled off a mild upset over Jackson Couty in Friday’s late first round game.
The Bobcats got two free throws and then a drive to the basket by senior forward Jake Patterson to go up 39-34 with 3:34 to play. A little later senior Ben Collett capped a wild exchange of turnovers by scooping up a loose ball in the lane and jumping over a Tiger defender who had dived after it for a layup. That put Bell up 44-38 with 1:54 remaining.
Barbourville got 3-pointers from Brentley Perry and Tate Carter to close within 46-44 with 23 seconds left. They had a chance to tie it late, but Carter’s open look from long range was off the mark. Perry was fouled after grabbing the rebound and made one free throw. He missed the second on purpose, but Patterson got that rebound and hit both free throws to set the final score.
“I think (Carter) didn’t know which line he was behind. But we did what we wanted to do there, he had hit a 3 before,” Barbourville coach Dinky Phipps said. “My kids won’t quit and I’m very proud of them for that. Bell County has a good ball team. I thought they let us play a little rough at times and they let us play a little close at times, but all-in-all I’m very proud of my kids. They came to make it to (Saturday), they just didn’t do it.”
Patterson led the Bobcats with 16 points and nine rebounds while sophomore Chase Woolum added 11 points. Senior guard Tyler Potter was chased most of the game by Perry as Barbourville played a diamond-and-one. He finished with nine points on 3-of-6 shooting.
“When you play against a junk defense like that you’ve just got to improvise and adjust a little bit and be patient. That’s why the score was so low, but I thought we did a pretty good job,” Morris said. “They did a pretty good job on Potter but the rest of the kids stepped up.”
Sophomore center Zach Partin finished with eight points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots in the game. He anchored a Bell defense that held the Tigers to 38-percent shooting (18 of 47) and was named the player of the game.
“I was just trying to help us get a win. We needed to be more physical on the defensive end and I tried to bring what I had,” he said. “We’ve just got to get two more games and we’re going to Rupp. That’s all I’m concerned about.”
Perry led Barbourville (18-13) with 17 points. Tanner Moore added nine and Wade Liford eight. Senior center Jason Mills had his hands full with Partin and also battled foul trouble most of the night. He went 0-for-6 from the field and scored his only point on a free throw that tied the game at 32 early in the fourth quarter. Mills got to line after rebounding his own missed layup and fouled out of game the just a few seconds later.
“We tried to get the ball in to Jason and get them into some foul trouble, but it just never happened,” Phipps said. “I had to pull him out and then he had to worry about not fouling when we put him back in. I knew when he missed the little gimme that he would foul on the next time down and I couldn’t get a timeout called.”
Bell got 3-pointers from Josh Asher, Woolum and Patterson in the first quarter along with two baskets by Partin to take a 13-11 lead after one. But they could never do enough in the half-court to get the Tigers out that diamond-and-one.
A jumper by Potter put the Bobcats up by six (19-13) around the 5:00 of the second quarter. Barbourville got five points from Perry in the period as they closed to within 22-20 by halftime.
The Tigers opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run with Perry hitting a 3 and then taking a steal in for a layup that gave Barbourville a 27-22 lead. It was 29-23 after Liford followed his own miss for a basket at the 4:20 mark, but Bell closed the period with a 9-2 run. Partin blocked three shots during that stretch and Potter was able to score four points in transition — two free throws and one basket after grabbing an offensive rebound. Woolum’s runner to close the quarter put the Bobcats up 32-31.
“We picked up our press and forced them into some up-tempo, then we were able to get out an run a little bit. We were lucky after we threw the ball away three straight times and put ourselves in a hole. But they hung in there and played hard,” Morris said. “Zach played well, especially on the defensive side. He moved well all night long and also came up with a couple of steals They all played pretty well.”
Bell County made enough plays in the fourth quarter to build their lead and Patterson and Potter combined to hit five of six free throws down the stretch as the Bobcats held on.
“Those two are seniors and they’ve been there before in tight situations. Chase has hit some big free throws, too,” Morris added. “We try to keep the ball in our best-pecentage shooters’ hands, that’s for sure.”
It marked the fourth straight win in regional tournament play for Bell County. The Bobcats won the region the last time they were there in 2011. Morris said there is at least one similarity the current team has to that one.
“That team was really physical all the way around. We had John Dudley (Hilton) and Pat (Justin Patterson) and then we had a couple of kids that were kind of long. We also had Ben (Madon). For this region a guard like that who is 6-4, can jump and is strong is a tough match-up for everybody,” he said. “They’re both mentally tough teams. They both went through a lot and they just keep fighting. These are tough kids and we’re going to have a hard match-up (Saturday) either way.”
Corbin was able to slow the tempo and upset Jackson County 52-48 in that late game. The Bobcats will play the Redhounds Saturday at 8 p.m.
— — —
Brentley Perry 7-11 1-2 17, Tanner Moore 3-5 2-3 9, Jason Mills 0-6 1-2 1, Wade Liford 4-8 0-0 8, Jacob Rose 1-4 0-0 2, Alex Peyton 2-6 0-1 4, Austin Eldridge 0-3 0-0 0, Tate Carter 1-3 1-2 4, Collin Grubb 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 18-47 5-10 45.
BELL COUNTY (21-10)
Chase Woolum 4-10 2-3 11, Tyler Potter 3-6 3-4 9, Zach Partin 3-5 2-4 8, Jake Patterson 3-8 9-10 16, Josh Asher 1-4 0-0 3, Ben Collett 1-3 0-0 2, Cody Ferguson 0-0 0-0 0, Donovan Napier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-36 16-21 49.
|3-point goals: Barbourville 4-16 (Perry 2-3, Moore 1-2, Carter 1-2, Peyton 0-4, Eldridge 0-3, Mills 0-1, Rose 0-1), Bell County 3-8 (Asher 1-4, Woolum 1-2, Patterson 1-2). Rebounds: Barbourville 25 (Mills 6, Liford 6), Bell County 26 (Patterson 9, Partin 9). Turnovers: Barbourville 13, Bell County 15. Fouled out: Barbourville (Mills, Peyton).|