Pineville athletics in review

Published 10:28 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

Pineville athletics couldn’t seem to find their stride collectively during the 2017-18 school year. Of the six sports submitting information to the KHSAA, only two ended their season with winning records — girls basketball and volleyball.

The girls basketball team was led by three seniors — Jill Enix, Sarah Combs and Makenzie Fuson — who helped the team to an 18-12 record. While their overall record was a slight step backwards from the 2016-17 season, the Lady Lions made up for it in postseason success.

Pineville hit a rough patch down the final stretch of the regular season winning only one of their last five games — a 55-51 victory over J. Frank White Academy. That win propelled the Lady Lions to a 66-55 victory over Lynn Camp in the first round of the 51st District Tournament.

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While the girls basketball team lost in the district championship, they advanced to the 13th Region Tournament for the second time in three years. The Lady Lions proved they could hang with the elite competition of the 13th Region when they pushed eventual champion Harlan County to the brink in the first round of the regional tournament.

The Lady Lions held a 26-24 lead at halftime before succumbing to a 59-42 loss against the Lady Black Bears.

“This group of seniors, 73 ball games they’ve won in four years — which is an average of (about) 18 wins a season. That’s what I’ve told these other girls, learn from them. They never missed weight lifting, they never missed practice. Winning 18 games a season don’t just show because you’re good,” said Pineville coach Jamie Mills following the loss to Harlan County. “You’ve got to put all the other stuff into it. They don’t miss and they came regularly. They wanted it. They’ve had a great career.”

The Pineville volleyball team showed the most improvement during the school year. In just their second year of existence, the Lady Lions saw a nine-game improvement ending the year with a 14-11 record.

After starting the year off rocky, the volleyball team found their stride in September going 6-4 during that stretch. Over that span they defeated Barbourville (twice), Bell County (twice), Middlesboro and Lynn Camp.

The Lady Lions wrapped up the regular season with a five-game winning streak heading into 51st District Tournament. A victory over Lynn Camp in the first round secured their spot in the 13th Region Tournament, but Pineville lost 3-1 in the district championship to Knox Central.

The volleyball team’s impressive season came to an end in the first round of the regional tournament with a loss to Corbin.

“I’m really proud of our girls. We never want to settle, so we weren’t just satisfied to be here in this position,” said Pineville coach Samantha North following the team’s loss to Knox Central. “I came from a really small school like Pineville, so just the opportunity to play in region is huge. I hope our girls get to experience that…just so they enjoy being there because it is a big deal.”

On the boys side, both the basketball team and football team saw a regression after suffering major losses from the 2017 graduating class.

The football team went 2-9 during the season with wins over Jackson County (28-8) and Berea (42-6) being the highlights of the year. The team lost their final six games of the regular season before falling to Hazard in the opening round of the Class 1A playoffs.

“Our team showed a lot of character this year. This was a tough season, you can’t say anything else about it,” said Pineville football coach Bart Elam. “But our kids kept fighting back, kept coming back and practicing hard and doing things the right way and I’m proud of them.”

The boys basketball team didn’t fare much better after losing four starters to graduation. A year removed from winning their second straight 13th Region All A title, the Mountain Lions saw their win total drop by 11 games — ending the season with a 5-22 record.

Their five victories came against Oneida Baptist Institute, Owsley County, Oneida, Tenn., Thomas Walker and Red Bird.

The highlight of the year was a 53-50 loss to Bell County. Pineville had the lead with only seconds remaining in regulation before the Bobcats hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to push the game into overtime. During the overtime period, Clay Goodin hit a three at the buzzer, but time expired before the shot left his hand.

The Lions were eliminated in the first round of the 51st District tournament by Knox Central.

The softball team failed to pick up a win with a roster that mainly consists of underclassmen. The baseball team regressed by two wins after losing three players from their pitching rotation due to graduation.