By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
WHITLEY COUNTY — The Whitley County Colonels opened the season with a hard-fought, 72-71, overtime win over 13th Region foe Bell County at home.
After failing to come through on a chance to win the game the end of regulation, the Colonels made good on the chance to take the lead in overtime. Whitley County’s James Sasko knocked down a shot with just over five seconds to play to put the Colonels on top.
The win sends the Colonels to 1-0 on the early season and gives Jerry Overbey’s squad some much-needed confidence to start the season.
“The kids showed a lot of resilience when we battled back in the fourth quarter after falling behind by eight points,” Overbey said. “This was a big win over a 13th Region team, especially when you look at the preseason rankings where you’ve got Bell County around the seventh spot and us near the bottom.
“We’ve got some good kids here and they really play hard and give a lot of effort,” he added. “I knew around August that we were going to have a group of kids that would battle and that’s what they did tonight.”
Bell County jumped ahead 18-15 after the first quarter, but the Colonels battled back to tie the score at 30 apiece as the teams went to the locker room tied at 30 apiece.
Bell County managed to inch ahead by the end of the third quarter, outscoring the Colonels 14-11, taking a 44-41 lead into the final period.
Things looked bleak for Whitley County as they fell behind 55-47, but that’s when things got interesting. From that point, the Colonels outscored Bell County 16-8 to close out regulation, sending the game into overtime.
Sasko scored four of the Colonels eight points in the extra frame as Whitley County held on for the win after Bell County’s last second shot went wide to end the game.
“I’m happy for the kids and the way they didn’t quit tonight,” Overbey said. “This was a good way to start the season, but we have to go right back at it and try to keep playing well.”
Whitley County 72, Bell County 71
Bell Co. 18 12 14 19 8 71
Whitley Co. 15 15 11 22 9 72
Bell County (71) — Potter 33, Patterson 24, Collett 4, Asher 3, Partin 3, Jackson 2, Partin 1, Woolum 1.
Whitley County (72) — Bryant 16, Powers 14, Z. Rutherford 14, D. Rutherford 12, Lawson 10, Sasko 4, Hale 2.