Mountain Lions down Knox Central in 51st District Tournament opener

Published 10:08 am Friday, February 24, 2023

BY PAUL LUNSFORD

Contributing writer

It has been 11 years since Pineville has played in the 13th Region Tournament.

The Mountain Lions downed Knox Central at home on Wednesday 76-33 in the other opening game of the 51st District Tournament.

On Tuesday, Barbourville (17-10) edged Lynn Camp (5-24) 48-44. The Tigers will face Pineville (18-9) for the district finals on Friday at 7 p.m.

Sophomore guard Sawyer Thompson powered Pineville with 22 points. Ashton Moser and Evan Biliter each scored 14 points. Wyatt Caldwell contributed 10 points for the Lions. Sam Caldwell followed with eight points. Ashton Burns and Kaiden Robbins each had four points.

Isaac Brown, Ethan Jackson, Tyler Jackson, Rickie Jeffries and Logunn Littles all played but failed to score.

Pineville connected on 11 of 19 3-pointers. Thompson nailed four while Moser and Wyatt Caldwell each hit three. Biliter added another.

The Lions shot 51 percent for the game from the field on 26 of 51. The team struggled at the free throw line, hitting 13 of 27.

Moser led the Lions with 10 rebounds, Sam Caldwell grabbed eight and Robbins added five.

Pineville took a 20-10 advantage after eight minutes of play and stretched the lead to 38-20 at halftime.

Barbourville claimed a 70-49 win over the Mountain Lions at home on Jan. 24. The Tigers have defeated Pineville nine straight games.

Junior guard Jacob Smith paced the 4-26 Panthers with 10 points. Sophomore guard Austin Bargo and Trevor Jordan, a freshman forward, each added nine.

It will be the first time in 17 years that Knox Central has missed the regional tournament.

The Panthers lost a majority of its offense after the 2022 season and two players transferred (Gavein Chadwell went to North Laurel and J.T. Turner to Barbourville) before the 2023 basketball season started, which made it difficult for first-year coach Kris Mills.

Knox Central will lose one senior —  forward Robert McWilliams, who averaged four points and five rebounds per game.

The Panthers opened the season losing 16 consecutive games. Knox Central downed district-rival Lynn Camp 74-69 in overtime on Jan. 17.

The Panthers claimed two wins over Cordia and another over Oneida Baptist.