The Panthers fell behind 10-2 in the early going and didn't take their first lead until Robbie Pittman scored on a putback to make it 28-26 midway through the third quarter.
A 3-pointer from John Hatcher put the Cougars back on top, and they led 31-29 going into the fourth quarter.
After a Campbell turnover, one of eleven the Panthers forced in the second half, Chris Warren's 3 put Cumberland Gap on top 32-29 and they never trailed again.
The Panthers hit 11-of-16 free throws in the fourth period and led by as many as six when Joey McFall's basket gave them a 42-36 lead with 1:21 to play.
Corey Minton sank a 3-pointer for Campbell and Brance Stiner came up with a steal and drove all the way in for a layup with 45 seconds left to make it a one-point game.
Jake Shipley and Warren sandwiched two free throws each around a basket by Stiner and the Panthers led 46-43 with 17.6 seconds on the clock.
A three attempt by Campbell's Mikey Corner was no good and Warren came away with the rebound. He hit one more free throw with five seconds to go to set the final score.
“We ended up winning it from the free throw line, but we still missed a couple there when the game was tight,” Panther coach Sherrill King said. “That's something we've been really working hard on and it was able to pay off because tonight free throws were the difference in the game.”
Warren led all scorers with 19 points in the game and Adam Nelson added 11 for Cumberland Gap. The Cougars were led by Hatcher's 13 and Stiner's 10.
Hatcher score eight of his points in the first quarter as Campbell opened up a 15-9 lead.
“We started out flat and we were really flat the whole first half,” King said. “We had about a two minute stretch there in the second quarter where we played really well, then we just kind of dropped back off again.”
Warren hit a pair of threes and Nelson added a pair of basket as the Cumberland Gap cut the Cougar lead to 24-21 by the half.
“We've got to credit them a little bit, we'd go on a little run and they'd grab the ball and slow it down and hold it,” King said. “They did a good job handling the ball and if you can't get it back it's hard to do anything with it.”
The Panthers forced the issue in the second half by pressing more and pushing the tempo. They forced seven turnovers in the third quarter, but couldn't take advantage as they hit just 3-of-12 shots from the floor.
“Converting on the turnovers is something we didn't do as well tonight as we have been, but we did push it,” King said. “In the first half we were just walking the ball up, but in the second half we got it out and started running our lanes and put some pressure on them to get back. We scored some and got to the free throw line some because of that.”
Cumberland Gap (12-13, 3-6 in district) travels to Rutledge tonight for a double-header that will complete their regular season. With a win they will earn the fourth seed for the district tournament, which starts Friday at CGHS. A loss would make them the sixth seed.
“It's wide open, the number six team in the district right now has only been beat by the number one team by three and by five. The number five team has beat both one and two and I think it's going to be a heck of a tournament,” King said. “Being at home is a big plus for us and we've been playing some of our best basketball over the past two weeks.”
- - -
Campbell Co. 15 9 7 12 - 43
Cumberland Gap 9 12 8 18 - 47
CAMPBELL COUNTY (43): John Hatcher 13, Brance Stiner 10, Corey Minton 7, Jonathan Green 7, Blake Potter 3, Mike Corner 3.
CUMBERLAND GAP (47): Chris Warren 19, Adam Nelson 11, Jake Shipley 6, Clay Bisceglia 5, Joey McFall 4, Robbie Pittman 2