One day after defeating the Lynn Camp Wildcats in a district matchup at home, the Knox Central Panthers traveled a short distance to Barbourville to take on the in-county rival Tigers on Saturday.
The two teams battled in a tightly-contested game for four quarters. The game began with the Panthers holding a double digit lead after outscoring the Tigers 18-9 in the first quarter. Barbourville's offense exploded in the second quarter as they scored 31 points. The Panthers duplicated their first quarter performance with 18 points, leaving the Tigers with a slim 40-36 lead at the half.
As play resumed in the third, the flow of the game virtually mirrored that of the first period. The Panthers regained the lead en route to outscoring Barbourville 23-10 in the third, leaving the score at 59-50 in favor of Knox Central, heading into the final frame. Barbourville drew back to within three points behind a 13-7 run. However, with both teams in the single bonus halfway through the final period, Knox Central stepped to the line and closed out the game connecting on big free throws down the stretch. By the final horn, the Panthers had escaped Barbourville 79-69.
Knox Central was led in scoring by JeVonte Turner with 33 points. He was followed by Isaac Mills with 16 points, Gavin Chadwell with 14 points, Abe Brock with nine points, Andrew Sizemore with three points, Logan King with two points, and KT Turner with two points.
Barbourville was led in scoring by Matthew Gray with 26 points. He was followed by Ethan Smith with 12 points, Jordan Collins with 11 points, Jacob Lundy with eight points, Matthew Warren and David Collett with five points each, and Dylan Moore with two points.
Following the game, Knox Central coach Tony Patterson drew attention to his team's halftime adjustments and highlighted how they made plays in the final moments of the game to allow them to secure victory in their second consecutive district game in as many days.
"We just toughed it out," he said. "We didn't play tough or physical and didn't play our game the whole game. We just made some plays down the stretch and was able to get a small lead and hold on to it."
The Panthers outrebounded the Tigers by eight rebounds, however, 12 of their total rebounds were offensive.
"We should have outrebounded them by a lot more than we did," said Patterson. "We're a big physical team, and we should be averaging about 40 rebounds a game. We're coming off of a bad game last night, and played a bad game tonight. It's hard to play back-to-back district games, but the way scheduling is this season, we didn't have a choice, we had to get them in. We will fix everything we didn't do right, it's all fixable. Barbourville is a good team, and they played a tough game."
Barbourville coach Cody Messer stated how proud he was of his team for playing such a good game against a good team, but stated that he, nor his team, were satisfied. After their offense slowed in the third quarter, he also drew attention to the Tigers' current attrition struggles after losing starting point guard Travis Scott to a knee injury after the Harlan game, and losing starting shooting guard Matthew Warren to an ankle injury during the game.
"We lost Matthew Warren right before the half; he rolled his ankle," said Messer. "We're already without our starting point guard in Travis Scott after he re-injured his leg in our previous game against Harlan. We had a specific game plan, because we were limited on bodies. I thought we executed that pretty well."
"I'm very proud of our bench tonight," he said. "I can't say enough about Ethan Smith, Jacob Lundy, Nick Sanders and the rest of our bench. I'm proud of all these guys. I thought Jordan did a great job for us tonight. Matthew Gray continues to lead for us and produce for us."
"Their size hurt us," he added. "They didn't kill us tonight, but the outrebounded us by eight rebounds. However, they had 12 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points. Any time you give a team that many opportunities at a bucket, obviously their percentage is going to go up. At the end of the day, it just comes down to being just a little bit out of position. We've got a bunch of young guys that are still adjusting to the speed of the game; they've never had that before this season. Some small things like being just a second too late in the lane, or just a second late on sliding over and taking a charge, makes the world of difference."
"I can't be upset at guys that give me everything they've got. That's what I tell the guys. You don't want the final buzzer to sound and have any regrets that you didn't give everything you could when you had the chance. I think they gave me everything they had tonight, and for that, I'm proud of them. While I'm proud of them, it's just like I told them, I'm very proud of their effort and how hard they fought, but I'm not satisfied; and neither are they."
"Knox Central is a very good team," he added. They don't have any weaknesses. They've got two or three of the best players in the region. You can look at most teams and say, 'hey, we can go at their one, or their four, and maybe have an advantage. You can't do that with those guys. They've got depth and talent all over the court. We're just going to focus on districts now, it's set. The seeding is set, we know who we're going to have and that's our focus. We're going to get ready and try to get back to the arena. Anything can happen on the big floor."
The Panthers got back in action on Monday, just two days after an intense district matchup against the Barbourville Tigers. The Whitley County Colonels came to town allowing for a clash that was cancelled earlier in year, due to COVID-19 protocol.
Knox Central cruised to an 83-61 victory behind 30 points and seven rebounds from JeVonte Turner. He was followed by Isaac Mills with 17 points, Gavin Chadwell with 13 points and six rebounds, Abe Brock with eight points, Bryce Imel with five points, KT Turner with four points, Andrew Sizemore and Blake Ledford with three points each.