By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
The Knox Central Panthers entered the season young and inexperienced at some key positions with only two seniors on this year’s roster, which in turn left many 13th Region prognosticators scratching their heads where exactly to rank them coming into the season.
But Brian Evans’ squad has shed the inexperience and given many people reason to believe his squad can make a run at the 13th Region crown. The Panthers already secured a 68-62 win over Clay County while putting together an impressive 10-4 record.
But it’s not been easy.
Evans has had to deal with some early season injuries and some tough early tests before the Christmas break, but things look to even be a bit tougher during the next couple of weeks.
The Panthers open a crucial stretch of games that’s going to determine the 51st District seeding while allowing them to see how they match up with some of the region’s other top teams.
“We’ve got some tough games coming up,” Evans said. “We’re going to be tested and we are working hard to get better.”
The tough stretch begins Friday at home against Pineville in a 51st District showdown with games against Barbourville (away), Lynn Camp (home), South Laurel (home), Corbin (home) and Harlan County (away) on the horizon.
“That’s why we try to play some good teams early in the season,” Evans said. “It’s a tough stretch of games, but that’s just how our schedule has fallen the past few years.
“Playing these games will make us better,” he added. “We’ve got the district games that are very important. I believe our kids will be ready to play.”
What makes things even tougher on the Panthers will be the absence of starting guard Matthew Barger, who is out with a hip injury.
“Not having Matt in the lineup is going to make things tougher — it changes things,” Evans admitted. “He’s got a hip injury and I’m not sure when he will be back. Our health has played a big role in our season this year. We have made progress, though.
“We were without him for four games earlier and we switched some things around and improved on some things. It was a good experience for our guys — they learned a lot.”
Barger missed four games earlier this season due to an injury, but came back in time to help guide Knox Central to a Williamsburg Holiday Tournament championship, as the Panthers posted a 3-0 record.
“He went down in the Upperman, Tenn., game and I thought our guys responded well,” Evans said. “I believe we’re going to be OK. I know everyone is working hard and the guys are getting better. We just need to go out there and do the best we can.”
By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
- Local Sports
The Corbin Lady Redhounds returned to action in their second round match of the Cumberland Falls Invitational Tournament. Corbin entered the contest riding off an 86-point, hard-fought scoring effort in Wednesday's victory over Harlan.
There was really no question North Laurel would make short work of young Riverside Christian. The Jaguars picked up an 82-25 win Thursday with a running clock starting late in the first half.
Lady Cards fall to Bell County, 64-40
When you sport a very young team, you can expect some growing pains early in the season. South Laurel is a very young team, but for 2 1/2 quarters they stayed right with heavily favored Bell County in the Cumberland Falls Invitational Thursday night.
On the Carpet
It's not been easy, but Jerry Herron's Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are one game away from capturing the football program's first-ever Class A state championship.
Leading the way
A little over 24 hours separates the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets from a showdown with the Mayfield Cardinals for the 2013 Class A State Championship, but it’s taken a lot longer for the program itself to reach this point.
Gilliam Gymnasium had a tournament-like atmosphere Tuesday night as the Corbin Redhounds defeated the Jackson County Generals, 75-73, in the opening game of the season for both teams.
Yes you, May
The Lynn Camp Lady Wildcats are coming off their best season in program history, and things got even better Tuesday, as Richard Jones' squad won its season-opener over visiting, Burgin, 54-41.
Colonels pick up 64-61 road win over Bell County
After narrowly escaping with their season-opener Monday with a 75-74 win over Garrard County, the Whitley County Colonels pulled off what some may view as a shocker Tuesday.
Barbourville knocks off Jellico, Tenn., 60-50
It may have been a win, but Barbourville head coach Andrea Hillard did not have the tune of a happy coach after her Lady Tigers’ 60-50 win over Jellico, Tenn. Tuesday.
Barbourville cruises to 85-43 win over Jellico
It didn’t take long for the Barbourville Tigers to take care of business on their home court in the opening game of the 2013-2014 campaign.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Rolling Along