PINEVILLE — A switch into their full-court press helped the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets erase a six-point halftime deficit and they went on to beat Barbourville 71-65 in Friday’s 13th Region All “A” semifinal.
“It took a little bit for our kids to show that they really want to be in this championship and have an opportunity to win Middlesboro’s first All ‘A’ title and go to state,” Middlesboro coach Russell Thompson said. “Because of foul trouble I didn’t feel like we could (press)t for the whole game so we waited to use it after halftime. That got us back into it an then kids stepped up and hit some big shots and got that six-point lead.”
Junior forward Austin Poindexter led the Jackets with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Donnie Foister added 18 points and Michael Wilson 16 while Blake Davis finished with eight.
“Michael Wilson had a big night for us. He really led us with his court game and that was big because we were struggling in that first half. We looked dead-legged and didn’t have much motivation and weren’t showing much passion for the game,” said Thompson. “Michael somewhat willed us to stay in the game in the first half and we were able to get into match-ups where we could pick up the defensive pressure in the second half and get back in the game.”
Wilson hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, but the Jackets trailed 15-14 after one.
Devin Mills, who poured in a game-high 33 points for Barbourville, scored seven in the second quarter as the Tigers opened up a 31-25 lead by halftime.
The Middlesboro pressure took Barbourville out of their comfort zone in the second half and they started turning turnovers into points. Poindexter scored seven of his points in third period, Davis hit a 3 and Foister added a pair of baskets as the Jackets came roaring back. A layup by Poindexter tied the game at 42 going into the fourth.
After another Tiger turnover to start the final period, Poindexter and Wilson hit consecutive 3-pointers to put MHS up 48-42 and the Jackets never trailed again.
Mills hit a 3-pointer and later a two to get Barbourville as close as 52-51, but Foister hit two free throws and Poindexter added a basket as the Jackets answered with a quick strike whenever the Tigers threatened and they went on to win by six.
Alex Phipps added 15 points for the Barbourville while Kevin Engle finished with nine.
Barbourville (12-7) plays at Harlan County on Monday.
Middlesboro (11-7) advances to face Pineville in the 13th Region All ‘A’ championship game on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Bell County.
“It’s going to be a good game and I’m sure our kids will be ready to play hard,” Thompson said.
— — —
Barbourville…..15…16..11…23 — 65
Middlesboro…..14…11…17…29 — 71
BARBOURVILLE (65): Devin Mills 33, Alex Phipps 15, Kevin Engle 9, Jacob Rose 4, Zack Strong 2, Tanner Moore 2, Jason Mills 0, Austin Eldridge 0.
MIDDLESBORO (71): Austin Poindexter 23, Donnie Foister 18, Michael Wilson 16, Blake Davis 8, Zack Riddle 3, Boone Bowling 2, Derek Smith 1.