The Middlesboro Yellow Jackets used an 8-0 spurt early in the fourth quarter to take the lead and held on for a 70-62 over Pineville Friday.
The Mountain Lions fought back from a big early hole and trailed just 32-26 at the half. They took the lead late in the third quarter on a 3-pointer from Jacob Skinner and a basket from Byron David Asher early in the fourth put the Lions up 45-42.
Middlesboro got a 3 from Austin Poindexter to tied the game, then Poindexter grabbed a rebound and started a fast break with an outlet pass to Michael Wilson. Wilson hit Donnie Foister streaking to the basket for a layup and a 47-45 lead. After a Pineville turnover, Blake Davis hit another 3 for the Jackets and the Lions wouldn’t get closer than three points the rest of the way.
“Pineville took the lead there in the second half and we had guys step up and answer that right away to get us back in the lead where we could control what was going on and that was huge,” Jacket coach Russell Thompson said. “Give Pineville credit, they played hard. We had them down early but they didn’t quit and came at us.”
Foister led all scorers with 26 points in the game while Poindexter added 17 off the bench and Davis 15 for Middlesboro. Pineville was led by senior center John Simpson’s 19 points. Senior Seth Jeffrey made his season debut after sitting out with a concussion and scored 15 points off the bench while Asher finished with 10 points for the Lions.
Jeffrey’s 3-pointer with just under a minute to play brought Pineville within 63-60, but Davis hit four straight free throws and Poindexter added a tip-in as the Jacket held on.
“Seth’s a good ball-handler, he can shoot the ball and helps us expand defenses more and open up our inside game. Obviously he’s still not physically in condition yet after setting out six weeks but it’s good to have another senior guard out there,” Pineville coach J.D. Strange said. “They had a couple of good runs on us, but I thought our kids played extremely hard. It was a great battle, the effort was there on both sides. They executed a little bit better offensively than we did.”
The Jackets hit 12-of-17 from the line in the fourth quarter, led by Davis going 6-for-6 as they closed out the win.
“I’m proud of our kids the way they came out in the fourth quarter and handled theirselves with that lead,” Thompson added. “For Blake Davis to step up and hit six free throws in a row, that was tremendous for our team.
“Donnie Foister had a big scoring night and Austin Poindexter did some good things off the bench. Zack Riddle was in foul trouble most of the night, but him and Boone Bowling both gave us a good defensive effort. Now, Simpson is a good player and they were down there battling with him and that’s a tough night for anybody.”
Derek Smith scored four points in the first quarter, Foister and Davis knocked down 3-pointers and Poindexter scored five points off the bench as the Jackets jumped out to a 16-11 lead.
Wilson and Davis hit 3s in the second period and Foister scored six of his points, but Pineville worked their way back into the game. Jeffrey scored six of his points in the second, Simpson added four, Skinner three and Dalton Ledbetter two and by halftime the Lions were within 32-26.
Pineville’s defense stepped up in the third quarter as Middlesboro was held to just a pair of field goals, both by Foister. Foister scored eight points in the third and Riddle added two free throws. But Simpson got going and scored eight of his points in the quarter as the Lions erased the deficit.
“Our runs were made when we were trying to come back and we did, but we just ran out of time there at the end,” Strange added. “Coach Thompson does a great job with his kids, you could see it with the intensity they played with. Our kids played with a lot of intensity, too. It was a great battle.”
The loss drops Pineville to 4-4 on the season and they’ll look to get back on track when they play at Thomas Walker, Va., on Monday.
“Overall, we’ve just looked like a team that hasn’t played together much,” said Strange. “We’re panicking with the ball and trying to rush things. I look up and we’re just out of sync. But that will come, hopefully sooner rather than later.”
Middlesboro improves to 4-2 and the win was a big one, coming after back-to-back district losses to Harlan County and Harlan.
“We were disappointed in our loss at Harlan, so to come back here and get a win over a team as good as Pineville means a lot. We’ve had two great days of practice and the kids came out and probably executed as well as they have all year in the half-court set and that’s an area where we had to improve,” Thompson said.
The Jackets play at Leslie County on Monday.
— — —
Pineville………11…15…17…19 — 62
Middlesboro…16…16…10…28 — 70
PINEVILLE (62): John Simpson 19, Seth Jeffrey 15, Byron David Asher 10, Jacob Skinner 8, Cody Collett 7, Dalton Ledbetter 2, Connor Ford 1, Jared Philpot 0, Isaac Longworth 0.
MIDDLESBORO (70): Donnie Foister 26, Austin Poindexter 17, Blake Davis 15, Derek Smith 6, Zack Riddle 4, Michael Wilson 3, Boone Bowling 0, Major Edwards 0.