By Les Dixon for the Times-Tribune
CORBIN — With his team staring at a 35-22 deficit at halftime, Barbourville coach Dinky Phipps knew his Tigers needed to do something to get back into its game against South Carolina's Crescent High School.
So what type of adjustments did his team make?
"It was an attitude adjustment," Phipps said. "I told them if they didn't start attacking the basket, they'd start sitting by me on the bench."
His players listened.
Barbourville outscored Crescent 22-7 in the third quarter and held a slim 44-42 lead going into the fourth quarter before holding on to win, 65-63.
The win turned out to be the Tigers' first in the Cumberland Falls Invitational.
"We needed this win," Phipps said. "We have been without Jason Mills, and to come out of here with a win is big.
"I've been to a few of these (Cumberland Falls Invitational) games, and this is the best during the best 10 years. There were very good teams in it this year."
After seeing Alexander Phipps keep the Tigers in the game with his outside shooting in the first half, the play of Brandon Gray powered the Tigers in the second half.
Gray finished the game with 26 points and seven rebounds while connecting on 10-of-17 shot attempts from the floor.
He also hit two free throws with 1.4 seconds remaining to break a 63-all tie.
"Brandon played great in the second half," Phipps said. "He attacked the basket and did what I asked him to do."
Barbourville led 60-49 midway through the final quarter of play before seeing Crescent go on a 14-0 run to take a 63-60 lead.
A three-pointer by Brent Perry tied the game at 63 apiece before Gray sealed the deal at the charity stripe seconds later.
"Brent hit a big three for us at the end and Brandon did a great job hitting the two free throws," Phipps said. "I have to give Aexander Phipps credit in the first half. He kept us in the game with his shooting."
Alexander Phipps finished the contest with 19 points while hitting five-of-eight from three-point range. Wade Liford scored eight points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Barbourville finished the game hitting 23-of-49 shot attempts from the floor and six-of-16 from three-point range while Crescent shot 24-of-53 shot attempts.
"I'm proud of my kids for not giving up," Phipps said. "They could have easily given up after the first half. They battled hard and managed to get back into the game.
"We settled (for shots) in the first half, but once we began attacking, we got back into the game," he added. "It was a good win for us."
Barbourville 65, Crescent 63
Crescent 21 14 7 21—63
Barbourville 16 6 22 21—65
Crescent (63) — Groves 14, Creswell 5, Davis 14, Pratt 2, Adger 24, Boseman 2, Smith 2.
Barbourville (65) — Phipps 19, Liford 8, Perry 6, Gray 26, Moore 4, Grubb 2.