Bobcats spoil Morris’ homecoming

Published 11:50 am Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Bell County boys basketball team spoiled the homecoming game for former coach Lewis Morris on Log Mountain Friday. Up by one point going into halftime, the Bobcats put together a strong second-half performance to pull away to a 53-45 victory over rival Middlesboro.

Bell outscored the Yellow Jackets by seven points in the third and fourth quarters combined to earn the victory.

“The game was nothing short of what I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be a dog fight. I’m new to the area, but I know the Middlesboro-Bell County rivalry — you can throw records out the door,” said Bell coach Frankie Smith. “We tweaked some things to prepare in case they tried to do some things. The biggest factor in the game was how good we were defensively in the second half.

“We struggle to score as well. The only time we’re pretty good is when we can get stops and we can transition. Believe it or not, I’m a run and gun coach even though our scores are lower. But, I’m not a turnover coach. You can’t transition if the only rebounds you get are coming through the net. You have to get rebounds off the rim and get it and go, and I think we were able to do that in the second half.”

For Bell County, the victory helps the Bobcats continued momentum nearly halfway through the season. With nine wins under their belt, Bell is four victories shy of tying their entire win total from last year.

Against Middlesboro, Sawyer Brock paced the team with 12 points and four rebounds. Colby Frazier provided a spark off the bench scoring 10 points while going 4-for-5 from the free-throw line.

Tyler Partin and Ryan Lambdin chipped in eight points apiece with Partin grabbing a team-high six rebounds.

In his first trip back to the Bell County gym, Morris’ Yellow Jackets made a push but couldn’t grab the win.

“I’ve got a lot of friends over here (at Bell County). The kids, I’ve coached most of them for three years. We’ve spent a lot of time together, took a lot of trips. They’re all quality kids,” said Morris about his return trip to Bell County. “They probably knew I was coming here to win, and I wouldn’t expect anything else from them. Hopefully, next time it will be a good game. I thought (this) was a good game.”

Drake Thomas led Middlesboro with 13 points while scoring five baskets from the field. Mykel Griffin added nine points, while Jabari Kyle chipped in eight.

“They did a good job of mixing up their defenses, and man they play their defense tight,” said Morris about Bell County. “We missed some good shots, but (we) kind of rushed things. (Bell) packed their defense back in there and play it really tight, and they did a good job at it.

“We just got out of whack and before I could get them settled back down, (Bell) had a 10-point lead. We’ve got to get better, and we will. We will continue to get better, and hopefully next time we will come out on the other end. I thought my kids played hard (and) gave a good effort. We just didn’t execute as well as they did, and that’s going to come with time.”

Middlesboro jumped out to a 7-3 lead with just under five minutes to go in the first off baskets from Griffin, TJ Patterson and Christian Hubbard. A layup at the buzzer by Dawson Atkins cut the lead to 10-7 heading into the second.

The Jackets’ lead grew to as much as four in the second quarter with a layup by Drake giving Middlesboro a 13-9 lead early. A put-back basket from Griffin gave the Jackets another four-point lead, 15-11, with under six minutes remaining in the half.

Bell County began making their move midway through the period. Down by three with 2:40 remaining, Partin hit a free throw to narrow the deficit to two, 17-15. A 3-pointer by Trey Brock gave the Bobcats an 18-17 lead.

Frazier capped the 7-0 run with an old-fashion three-point play that gave Bell a 21-17 lead with over a minute to play.

After swapping a pair of free throws, Hubbard hit a 3-pointer at the end of the second to cut the Bobcat lead to 23-22 heading into halftime.

Bell County got off to a solid start in the third with consecutive baskets from Sawyer Brock extending the lead to 29-24 with 4:09 remaining in the quarter. The Bobcats ended the third with a 7-2 run that gave them a 38-30 lead heading into the fourth.

Bell County’s lead grew to as much as 16 when a layup by Lambdin on a fast break gave the Bobcats a 46-30 lead. The Jackets cut the lead to single digits with a 5-0 run that narrowed the margin to 48-40. Steven Poore scored right before buzzer sounded to cut the final deficit to eight.

Up Next

Bell County (9-3) is scheduled to travel to Williamsburg (6-8) at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday where the Bobcats will square off against former assistant coach Nick Napier.

Middlesboro (7-7) will host Corbin (11-3) at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

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Bell County 53, Middlesboro 45

BELL COUNTY (9-3)

Sawyer Brock 6 0-5 12, Kyle Burnett 0 1-2 1, Tyler Partin 2 4-6 8, Isaac Collett 0 2-2 2, Ryan Lambdin 4 0-4 8, Dawson Atkins 2 1-2 5, Colby Frazier 3 4-5 10, Trey Brock 3 0-1 7. Totals: 20 12-27 53.

MIDDLESBORO (7-7)

Jabari Kyle 3 0-0 8, Christian Hubbard 2 0-0 5, Drake Thomas 5 2-4 13, TJ Patterson 2 2-2 6, Mykel Griffin 4 1-2 9, Steven Poore 1 0-1 2, Jordan Davis 0 2-2 2. Totals: 17 7-11 45.

Bell County 7 16 15 15 — 53

Middlesboro 10 12 8 15 — 45

3-point goals: Bell County 1 (T. Brock 1), Middlesboro 4 (Kyle 2, Hubbard 1, Thomas 1).

Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN