PINEVILLE —The Mountain Lions made it four wins in a row on Friday as they edged Whitley County 58-56.
Pineville as shown a knack lately of pulling out the close ones and Friday it was senior forward Jacob Skinner hitting six straight free throws over the final 34 seconds to secure the win. All of them were one-and-ones and every one turned out to be important as Whitley’s Zack Rutherford hit a 3 from midcourt at the buzzer to set the final.
“Jacob did a great job for us and he’s been coming along. He’s always been one of our top offensive players and he’s picking it up on defense, too,” Mountain Lions coach J.D. Strange said. “He was out after gall bladder surgery and now he’s starting to play more like he can and that’s a big asset to our team. When our kids play together and pull for each other I think we can be really fun to watch.”
Senior center John Simpson led the Lions with 21 points while Skinner finished with 14 and Jared Philpot added nine.
Michael Powers led the Colonels with 16 while Boston Bryant added 15 and Rutherford 11.
It was a tight game most of the way. Skinner scored four points in the first quarter and the Lions got a 3 from Seth Jeffrey and baskets from Byron David Asher and Simpson. Bryant scored six points and Powers hit a 3 for Whitley as Pineville led 11-9 after one.
Bryant and Luke Woods scored five points each in the second period for Whitley and it was tied at 23 by halftime.
Simpson got going in the third quarter and scored 10 of his points. Pineville also got six from Philpot and a Cody Collett baskets to take a 41-40 lead into the fourth.
It turns out the Lions had the Colonels right where they wanted them.
“It’s good lately that we’ve been able to perform in the close games because when you get to tournament play you’re going to have some and you want to have some experience with it,” Strange said. “At least we’re getting that experience.”
Pineville got a free throw and then a basket from Simpson to go up by four. But Whitley answered with 3s from Rutherford and Powers. Later Powers laid in a basket after a Rutherford steal and Whitley was up 50-49 with 2:50 to play.
A three-point play from Asher put the Lions back on top and Skinner did the rest from the free throw line as Pineville held on.
“Our group of kids have got a wonderful opportunity in front of them and I just hope they realize it. Whitley County has not got a bad team, they’re very disciplined and they’ve played in a lot of real close games,” Strange said. “We did the right things to win and came out on top. (But) we’ve got to keep getting better and take advantage of the times when we’ve got the ball and make the little things count.
Pineville (16-9) will host North Laurel on Tuesday while Whitley County (7-19) hosts Clinton County on Monday.
— — —
Whitley Co…..9…14…17…16 — 56
Pineville…….11…12…18…17 — 58
WHITLEY COUNTY (56): Michael Powers 16, Boston Bryant 15, Zack Rutherford 11, Luke Woods 5, James Sasko 4, Matt Lawson 3, Devin Rutherford 2.
PINEVILLE (58): John Simpson 21, Jacob Skinner 14, Jared Philpot 9, Byron David Asher 5, Seth Jeffrey 5, Cody Collett 4, Connor Ford 0, Dalton Ledbetter 0, Isaac Longworth 0.