LONDON — ‘Tis the season for holiday tournaments and Bell County coach Lewis Morris says his team was in too much of a giving mood on Thursday. The Bobcats saw a five-point second half lead evaporate and Corbin closed the game with a 10-3 run to pull out a 56-50 win at the Legacy Nissan Shootout at North Laurel.
“We pretty much just gave it to them,” Morris said.
To put the fourth quarter in the form of a favorite Christmas song:
Five days before Christmas the Bobcats gave to the ‘Hounds:
Five missed free throws, Four late fouls,
Three botched layups, Two turnovers,
And an uncontested offensive rebound.
That last one was the clincher as Corbin’s Zach Farley missed both ends of the double-bonus with 59.1 seconds to play and the Redhounds up 51-49. Bell’s Jake Patterson went up for the rebound, but the ball caromed higher than expected and went over his head and right into the arms of Trevor Hill. Hill’s layup pushed the lead to four.
On the following inbounds play, Tyler Green got behind the Corbin press for an easy basket but couldn’t convert and the Redhounds went 3-for-6 from the free throw line from there to win by six.
“We had every opportunity to win. It was just mental mistakes,” Morris said. “You’ve got to hit the easy shots and you’ve got to hit your free throws. I thought we did a good job of doing what we talked about wanting to do against Corbin. But you can’t take breaks when it’s crunch time, mentally.”
Bell County led 32-27 at the half and were still up 42-41 going into the fourth quarter. But they hit just four of nine free throws in the final period and failed to take advantage of a couple of scoring chances after grabbing offensive rebounds that could have put the game away.
Other than the final score, the game was a step forward in many ways for the Bobcats. They came in at 2-5, but looked like the better team for long stretches against a perennial 13th Region contender.
Patterson, who led all scorers with 15 points, put in six in the first quarter including a 3 that gave Bell a 15-13 lead after one.
In the second period it was junior forward Josh Asher finding the hot hand off the bench. He scored seven points, including his second 3 of the half that stretched the lead to 26-22 by the 3:25 mark. Tyler Potter and Patterson added baskets and Cody Ferguson hit a pair of free throws as the lead grew to 32-27 by halftime.
The Redhounds made a concerted effort to get the ball inside to center Robby Igo in the second half. After failing to score in the opening 16 minutes, Igo scored eight points in the third quarter and would finish with 12.
Corbin trimmed the lead to one on a steal and layup by Kaleb Maguet midway through the third. But Bell responded Potter scored a pair of baskets inside, one off an inbounds play from under the Bobcat basket the other after an offensive rebound. The lead was back to five at 42-37 with about 3:00 to go in the quarter.
Two free throws by Farley and a basket by Hill cut the deficit to one going into the fourth. Hunter Grubb, who also scored 12 points for the Redhounds, knocked down a 3-pointer with 7:30 to play to give Corbin their first lead since the first quarter.
The Bobcats got two free throws from Patterson and a jumper from Potter — he finished with 14 points in the game — to go back on top by two.
A layup by Potter off a back-door cut tied the game at 49 with 3:30 to play, but Bell County would score just one more point the rest of the way.
Morris said a lot of the Bobcats’ early struggles are due to having several new players along with just getting a few from the football team incorporated into the team. Tan Hudson started at center Thursday, Chase Woolum started at a guard spot while Tyler Green and Ben Collett both saw plenty of action off the bench.
“We’ve played pretty hard most of the games except for the Harlan County game. A lot of it has to do with the rotations and playing so many kids,” he added. “I think we’ll get better as the year goes on and as we get more structure. They’re working hard and doing a good job, but we can’t have those mental mistakes.”
Bell County (2-6) will play Estill County today at 2:30 p.m. while Corbin (6-3) takes on Pineville at 5:30 p.m. as the tournament contunies.
— — —
Bell Co…15…17…10….8 — 50
Corbin….13..14…14…15 — 56
BELL COUNTY (50): Jake Patterson 15, Tyler Potter 14, Josh Asher 10, Cody Ferguson 4, Chase Woolum 3, Tan Hudson 2, Tyler Green 2, Ben Collett 0, Zach Partin 0.
CORBIN (56): Hunter Grubb 12, Robby Igo 12, Trevor Hill 9, Zach Farley 9, Kaleb Maguet 4, Kevin Goins 4, Zach Henson 4, Taylor Waddle 2.