It was a tale of two halves Monday evening at Middlesboro, but the Lady Jackets were able to make their strong start hold up as they fended off a late Pineville rally for a 43-39 win.
“Our goal coming into this game was just to get better and to execute our game play of not getting in foul trouble early,” said Pineville coach Matt Shafer. “I told them if we wouldn’t get in foul trouble early we could turn up the pressure in the end and we’d have a shot to win — and we did, but there were just some minor things we didn’t take care of. But this was the best game we’ve played since the All ‘A’ championship game.”
The Lady Jackets were led by seventh-grader Blair Green’s 13 points while senior forward Carissa Padgett added 11 with Bailey Hensley and Amanda Biscardi finishing with six each.
Pineville got 14 points from senior guard Annalee Adams while Erica Gambrell added ten and junior forward Stacey Washington finished with eight points and 18 rebounds.
Green helped Middlesboro get off to a fast start, hitting a 3 on her way to seven first quarter points. Padgett added four and the Lady Jackets also got baskets from Biscardi and Lauren Spurlock to build a 15-6 advantage.
“I just thought that we were ready to play offensively and defensively and got us out to a quick start. We kind of pushed them out of their range level and got a quick lead on them,” Lady Jacket coach Elgie Green said.
The Lady Mountain Lions were held to just a Washington bucket along with two free throws from Devin Enix and one each from Adams and Gambrell in the first quarter.
A three from Taylor Moyers and a little jumper from Green extended the MHS lead to 20-6 by the 5:15 mark of the second quarter. But Pineville got baskets from Adams, Washington and Gambrell to close within 22-12 by halftime.
Hensley opned the third quarter with a basket, but the Lady Lions answered with a 10-2 run that featured three steals by Gambrell. The freshman guard turned one into a layup and found Washington in transition for a pair of baskets, including a layin at the 2:30 mark to cut the lead to 26-22.
“We’ve just got to learn when we’re under pressure to slow the game down in our mind and make better decisions,” Green said. “We get in too big of a hurry sometimes and it usually ends up in a bad pass or some type of turnover.”
Two free throws from Biscardi and two from Green pushed the Lady Jacket lead back out to 30-22 by the end of the period.
Middlesboro found an answer every time the Lady Lions got closer than five points. Adams came up with a layup after a steal but Hensley knocked down a long two-pointer and the lead was 36-30 with 4:39 to play. A three-point play from Padgett had the Lady Jackets up 39-30 by the 4:23 mark.
Adams hit a 3 and later scored after grabbing an offensive rebound with under two minutes left to bring Pineville within 41-36. One free throw by Enix and two from Gambrell cut the lead to 41-39 with under a minute to play.
“I’m proud of the way that they fought back. It was just tough to get out of that hole we dug at the beginning,” Shafer said. “We’ve got to learn that we can be very intense in a zone and play it, instead of just laying back and letting them get momentum.”
Hensley hit two of four free throws and the Lady Jackets made a pair of nice defensive stops to hold on for the win.
Spurlock held her ground under the basket to alter a Gambrell layup attempt with about 17 seconds to go and grabbed the rebound. Then Padgett got up to block an Enix 3-point attempt in the closing seconds and also secured the rebound to end the game.
“It got tight there. Pineville brought pressure at us, they were more physical than we were and we needed to find somebody to handle the basketball,” Green added. “Bailey stepped up and hit some big free throws and on the defensive end I tried to get out the man a few times and they got some easy looks so I went back to the man to make sure we knew who we were matched up with.
“That’s two good games in a row Lauren has had on the defensive end and she also got a few nice shots off. Taylor Moyers also knocked down a three there in the first half.We’ve got some kids that can score, but they’re just not sure of themselves.”
Both teams will be back in action tonight as Middlesboro (4-19) visits North Laurel while Pineville (14-13) heads to Corbin.
It was the sixth straight loss for the Lady Lions and Shafer said his team has been battling a lot of foul issues and a few injuries during that span. He said he was encouraged by the effort, especially Washington near double-double.
“That’s something we had been talking about. Stacey played 31 minutes, the most she’s played all year, and has eight points and 18 rebounds. If we can get that kind of effort out of her, good things will happen and we’ll be alright going into district,” he said.
— — —
Pineville………..6…6…10…17 — 39
Middlesboro…15…7…..8…13 — 43
PINEVILLE (39): Annalee Adams 14, Erica Gambrell 10, Stacey Washington 8, Devin Enix 5, Emily Mullins 2, Rachel Barnes 0, Tiffany Sutton 0, Jillian Enix 0.
MIDDLESBORO (43): Blair Green 13, Carissa Padgett 11, Bailey Hensley 6, Amanda Biscardi 6, Taylor Moyers 2, Lauren Spurlock 2, Taylor Prater 2.