By John Stepp for The Times Tribune
CORBIN — The Bell County Bobcats have been playing as well as any team in the 13th Region lately, and proved it once again when they defeated the Corbin Redhounds 56-45 on Thursday.
Corbin was down as much as 21 points in the game, but fought back in the fourth quarter. Despite their effort, the Redhounds have now lost five-straight games, dropping their record to 11-10 on the season.
A big factor in the game was the size difference between the two teams. The Redhounds lack size when compared to other teams around the region, and Bell County center Zach Partin went to work in the paint, scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.
“They were good in a lot of areas that we’re not. We struggled to rebound and that was a difference in the game,” said Corbin Coach Tony Pietrowski. “We have some areas we need to get better in, on both sides of the ball. Right now, good teams are going to expose those things.”
Corbin looked to be in control of the game early on, taking a 11-4 lead midway through the first quarter. The Bobcats didn’t stay down long, finishing the quarter on a 10-3 run, to tie the game at 14-14 heading into the second quarter.
“I thought we did a good job early. (Tyler) Potter is an excellent player and I thought we did a good job of finding him in the first quarter,” said Pietrowski. “When he gets going, they’re a really good ball team.”
Both teams struggled to score early in the second quarter and raced to a 21-21 tie, midway through the period. The Bobcats were able to control the offensive glass late in the quarter, scoring their last six points in the paint and taking a 27-23 advantage into the half. “I’ll have to look back at the film, but there were four or five minutes there in the second quarter where we didn’t guard and didn’t make shots,” Pietrowski said. “People were shooting where they weren’t accustomed to and we struggled.”
The difference in the game was the third quarter. Bell County managed to outscore the Redhounds 20-3 in the quarter, all but putting the game out of reach. The Bobcats dominance on the inside combined with Corbin’s inability to knock down shots helped Bell County to a 47-26 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“In that third quarter, we quit rebounding, we quit guarding and we just let them get to the rim. You can’t do that against good teams and win games,” said Pietrowski. “We have to improve and right now we have to keep sticking together and keep grinding. There is still a lot of season left.”
The Redhounds played their best basketball of the night in the fourth quarter, as their full court defense gave the Bobcats’ offense fits. Bell County continued to turn the ball over, allowing Corbin to get within eight points in the quarter. A field goal by Potter and a three-point play by Partin pushed the Bell County lead back to double digits, putting a stop to a Corbin rally.
Despite the loss, Pietrowski said his team is still focused on the district and regional tournaments and they have the potential to win both.
“They don’t hang banners in January. I told our kids that wins and losses are important, but we care about hanging district and region banners. In reality, as low as we are, if we can improve, we have a shot to win the region,” said Pietrowski. “Those kids in that locker room are hurting and I feel for them. They really care about this program and they care about how we are playing. They’re really pushing themselves to get better and get over these humps.”
Corbin returns to action tonight, traveling to take on Pineville. Bell County will play Jackson City on Saturday.
Bell Co. 14 13 20 9 – 56
Corbin 14 9 3 19 – 45
Bell County (56) – Partin 20, Potter 19, Patterson 12, Asher 5, Woolum 2, Collett 2.
Corbin (45) – Goins 15, Taylor 13, Browning 5, Maguet 5, Shelton 3, Hopkins 2, Hopper 2.