Jackets suffer another heartbreaker with loss to Wayne

Published 3:37 pm Monday, February 12, 2024

By John Henson

Contributing Sports Writer

It’s been said that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets’ 8-15 record shows it to be true.

The Jackets have suffered 11 losses this season by five points of less, including five over the past two weeks by a total of 14 points, capped by a 69-64 loss to visiting Wayne County on Saturday afternoon in the final game of the Larry Tom Davis Classic.

Middlesboro led one of the 12th Region favorites by one after one quarter and three at halftime and trailed by only two in the final minute before the Cardinals put the game away by hitting five of six free throws down the stretch.

“Our guys are improving, and just like I told them they are winning the games and I am losing them,” Middlesboro coach John Wheat said. “We just played one of the top teams in the state for 32 minutes, and we made them sweat. Not many people can say they’ve done that the last few years. Coming back in 14 hours from a rivalry game last night (a 58-55 loss to Bell County), I’m super proud of them. Our guys have played on what we are calling a business trip the last two weeks. The scores may not show it, but they have gotten better and done everything our coaching staff has asked them to do.”

Sophomore forward Kendall Phillips scored 24 points to lead the 20-5 Cardinals, ranked second in the 12th Region behind Danville Christian. Antajuan Dumphford scored 14 with Kayden Phillips and Seth Farmer adding 12 and 11 points, respectively.

Senior center Trey King joined the Jackets’ 1,000-point club as he scored 25 points. Jerimah Beck scored 20. Cayden Grigsby added 12.