Middlesboro boys, Lady Lions among best defenses in the state

Published 3:23 pm Friday, February 1, 2019

The generations-old moniker of “defense wins games” seems to be a focal point for both the Middlesboro boys and the Pineville girls. The Yellow Jackets rank 13th in the state in points per game allowed at 51.5 points a game.

“We try to mix it up a little bit from time to time,” said Middlesboro coach Lewis Morris. “Defense is about heart and how hard you are willing to play. If you’ve got one or two guys out of position, it can cause all kinds of problems for a defense. I think we do a good job of staying on assignment and knowing where to be on defense.

“We have had a few instances this season of loosening up on defense at crucial junctures of the game. We’ve gotten out of position here and there and allowed some of the better teams to rattle off runs on us to pull away or climb back into the game. All-in-all, I think we do a pretty good job, and I hope we can continue to play well on defense — especially with districts and everything right around the corner.”

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The Jackets have only lost three games this season when allowing their season average in points. In losses to Harlan County, Knott County Central and Bell County, Middlesboro allowed only 45 points to their opponents but still came up short.

For Pineville, the Lady Lions rank 33rd in the state in points allowed per game. They have allowed 43.2 points per game this season.

“Defense is a team effort,” said coach Jamie Mills. “You have to have everyone getting to their spots and getting to their assignments on defense. Being a defensive-minded coach, I’ve really enjoyed watching the team play defense this season.

“We’ve had a couple of games where I thought we played excellent defense, and a few others that didn’t go so well. But, for the most part, I think we’ve done a great job at holding teams in check this season.”

As one would expect, Pineville has been fairly successful when holding their opponents to or below 43 points. They have only lost two games when holding their opponents at or below 43 points. In December, the Lady Lions lost to Williamsburg 32-30. They also fell to Jackson County, 43-37.

During their current five-game winning streak, Pineville is averaging 41.6 points allowed per game.