By Les Dixon for the Times-Tribune
CORBIN — For three quarters, Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers hung tough with South Carolina’s Largo High School during Friday’s first round action of the Cumberland Falls Invitational.
The Tigers only trailed 57-49 heading into the fourth quarter, but Largo’s depth, speed and athleticism finally took over during the game’s final minutes, as Barbourville fell, 78-65.
“I am very proud of my kids,” Phipps said. “They played hard, but just ran out of gas. I have to give them all of the credit.
“I stayed on them the entire game, trying to get as much out of them as I could, but we got into foul trouble, and just ran out of gas in the end. We played nine players, and they just had more depth than us — they outmanned us.”
The Tigers didn’t have an answer for Largo’s Abdulai Bundu, who led all scorers with 33 points and seven rebounds on 14-of-19 shooting from the floor. His numbers could have even been better, but he got into foul trouble midway through the third quarter before finishing the game with a couple of nice dunks.
“They were just too strong for us down the stretch,” Phipps said. “We did a great job of hanging around with them, though. We were tied at the end of the first quarter and only trailed by three at halftime.
“We had a couple of chances to cut their lead to four or five points in the second half, but just missed on some easy opportunities,” he added. “They are a very good team, and like I said, we just ran out of gas in the end.”
Barbourville hung tough during the first three quarters thanks to some impressive shooting. The Tigers received some big three-point shots from Alexander Phipps and Brentley Perry and they found themselves tied at 24 apiece going into the second quarter.
Barbourville continued to hang tough in the second quarter before heading into the locker room at halftime, trailing, 39-36.
Phipps’ squad shot 11-of-22 in the first half, including a five-of-12 shooting effort from three-point range.
Even though the Tigers were shooting well from the floor during the first 16 minutes, Largo shot even better, knocking down 14-of-26 from the floor, and three-of-five shot attempts from three-point territory.
Barbourville cooled off in the second half, which allowed Largo to begin to pull away. The Tigers were outscored 39-29 in the second half, and only shot 36 percent (seven-of-19) from the floor, while Largo was 16-of-27.
Despite the loss, Phipps said his team is improving.
“Games like this will do nothing but make us better,” he admitted. “This is a great tournament and it allows us to play some really good competition, which will make us a better team in February.”
Four players scored in double figures for Barbourville, with Alexander Phipps leading the way with 17 points and six rebounds while connecting on three-of-six shot attempts from three-point range.
Brandon Gay followed with a 16-point effort while Perry had 12 and Wade Liford finished with 10 points. The Tigers finished the game connecting on 18-of-41 shot attempts from the floor while turning the ball over 24 times. Largo hit 30-of-53 from the floor and only had 14 turnovers.
Largo (S.C.) 78, Barbourville 65
Barbourville 24 12 13 16—65
Largo 24 15 18 21—78
Barbourville (65) — Phipps 17, Liford 10, Perry 12, Gray 16, Eldridge 3, Carter 5, Grubb 2.
Largo (78) – Bundu 33, Thomas 13, Manning 9, Nickerson 6, Butler 2, Conteh 6, M. Patterson 9.