Late run helps Knott rally past Jackets

Published 12:10 am Saturday, January 5, 2019

With eight wins on the season and four victories out of their last five, the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets are one of the 13th Region’s most improved teams. Finding a way to win close games against good teams is the next step for the Jackets, who were unable to finish off 14th Region power Knott Central on Friday despite an eight-point lead in the final three minutes.

Knott Central closed with a 19-6 run to rally past Middlesboro 45-40.

“We just gave the game away,” said Middlesboro coach Lewis Morris. “You’re up eight or so with just under three minutes left in the game. You can’t freeze up when a team starts trapping you. We’ve been working on that same stuff all week long. It seemed that no one wanted to step up and make plays. No one wanted to take the ball to the rim. Basically, no one wanted to step up late in the game.”

Middlesboro (8-5) was led by junior guard Jabari Kyle with 11 points. He was followed by senior center Mykel Griffin with eight.

Knott Central (6-5) was led by sophomore guard Colby Napier with 14. He was followed by sophomore center Josh McGuire and senior guard Khalil Slone with 9 each.

In the first quarter of the game, each team totaled 12 points. Kyle accounted for half of the Jackets’ scoring in the period with six, nearly matched by McGuire, who added five of his own. The Jackets’ defense was the dominating factor of the second period, holding the Patriots to a single bucket from Slone. However, the Jacket offense struggled, scoring only seven points in the period themselves, allowing Knott to hang around. The Jackets took a 19-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.

When play resumed in the third, the Jackets’ offense played their best offensive quarter of the game, totaling 13 points; including two 3-pointers from Griffin. Knott continued to hang around, scoring 12 in the third, keeping the deficit at six heading into the final quarter.

Middlesboro collapsed in the fourth quarter. Knott began to press and trap guards on defense, forcing the Jackets into costly turnovers. The Patriots capitalized on stolen possessions and outscored the Jackets 19-8 in the final quarter.

Middlesboro is back in action on Tuesday at Bell County. Knott Central is on the road against Letcher County Central.

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Knott Central (45) — Colby Napier 14, Josh McGuire 9, Khalil Slone 9, Gannon Couch 6, Branson Couch 5, Darron Whitaker 2.

Middlesboro (40) — Jabari Kyle 11, Mykel Griffin 8, Christian Hubbard 7, Andrew Padgett 5, T.J. Patterson 4, Scott Overbay 3, Trey Brock 2.