Knox Central inches past Lady Jackets, 71-66
Published 8:00 am Friday, January 18, 2019
The ending of Thursday’s game against Knox Central was hard to watch for Middlesboro fans. After holding a 14-point lead with just under four minutes remaining in the first half, the Lady Jackets watched their lead quickly diminish. Trailing by three with 25 seconds remaining in the game, junior guard Brittany Davis took an open 3-pointer and watched the ball bounce off the rim.
Knox Central secured the victory hitting two free throws in the final seconds to take the 71-66 victory. The loss ends a four-game winning streak that saw the Lady Jacket win the 13th Region All “A” tournament.
Foul trouble played a key role in Middlesboro’s defeat. Several key starters found themselves in foul trouble midway through the second quarter forcing several younger players to step in and fill the void.
“Usually…by the second quarter, our five starters have two fouls or more. When you start fouling that much and you have to start bringing all these younger kids off the bench, it’s really hard on them,” said Middlesboro coach Scott Overbay. “We’re a young team, but it’s going to make them grow better (and) make our younger ones better. I just got through telling our older kids they got to stay out of foul trouble.”
It was the play of Baylee Woody and Kailey Owens that kept Middlesboro in the game down the stretch. Woody finished with a team-high 19 points while hitting four 3-pointers. The senior guard was held scoreless in the fourth.
Owens’ seven points in the fourth quarter helped give the Lady Jackets a lead with just over three minutes remaining in the game. She ended the night with 14 points.
Both Kirsten Kerth and Aubrey Sowders provided a spark off the bench for Middlesboro combining for 19 points. Kerth finished with nine points. Sowders ended the night with 10.
Knox Central was paced by Presley Partin and Caylan Mills. Partin scored a game-high 21 points while shooting 80 percent from the free-throw line. Mills finished the night with 20 points. Senior Emily Davis also reached double figures tallying 14 points during the game with several coming on second chance opportunities.
“The biggest key to our team is we’re not blocking anybody out. We’re letting them shoot and shoot then we won’t block out or go after an offensive board,” said Overbay. “So, if you’re not getting boards, it’s going to be a long night no matter who you play.”
Middlesboro wasted little time jumping out to a 22-9 lead just past the midway point in the first after an 8-0 run. The run was capped off by a Sowders 3-pointer with just under three minutes remaining in the quarter.
Knox Central ended the quarter with back-to-back buckets from Mills that narrowed the deficit to 22-13 after one.
The Lady Jackets ballooned the lead to as much as 14 points in the second after Keith hit a free throw to give Middlesboro a 31-17 lead.
The Lady Panthers began chipping away at the lead from that point using a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 31-24. The two teams went back-and-forth before Davis hit a layup with five seconds left in the second to cut the lead to 40-36 heading into halftime.
Knox Central grabbed the lead for the first time since the opening quarter with 2:38 remaining in the third. A 3-pointer by Partin tied the game at 46-46 before Zoey Liford hit a layup to give the Lady Panthers a 48-46 advantage.
Katie Broughton capped a 10-0 run late in the quarter to increase the lead to 53-46.
The Lady Jackets missed three free throw opportunities down the stretch that would’ve helped cut into the lead. Woody was fouled at the buzzer and hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to 54-49 heading into the fourth.
Middlesboro used a 9-0 run to take a 62-61 lead with 3:30 remaining in the game. Knox Central took a 67-64 lead late after back-to-back baskets. The Lady Jackets narrowed the deficit to one (67-66) off two free throws from Macy Mink.
Davis and Mills connected on free throws with minimal time left on the clock to give the Lady Panthers a three point lead. A missed 3-pointer by Davis with 25 seconds left effectively sealed the game.
Knox Central responded by hitting two free-throws to secure the five-point victory.
Middlesboro (7-12) returns to action on Monday when they travel to Red Bird (0-15) at 6 p.m.
Knox Central (7-7) traveled to Harlan (5-14) on Friday.