By Les Dixon for the Times-Tribune
CORBIN — It wasn't a win, but Brian Evans' Knox Central Panthers turned in one of their best efforts of the season during an 86-84 loss to Maryland's Largo High School Monday.
Both teams turned in stellar efforts, but in the end, Largo's Aaron Thomas knocked down two free throw with two seconds left to seal the two-point win in the 27th Annual Cumberland Falls Invitational third place game.
"I'm proud of guys," Knox Central coach Brian Evans said. "We bounced right back after a tough loss last night and played well. A lot of good things came out of this loss.
"I saw a lot of good things from a lot of players," he added. "I think we now realize what potential we have. This is a very good team we played tonight. They came into the tournament undefeated and their coach said he believes they'll contend in South Carolina. We came up a bit short, but our effort was there tonight. I really believe we can take a lot of confidence from this game."
Knox Central fought back from a seven-point deficit in the first half, and managed to go into the locker room tied at 45 apiece before seeing their own seven-point edge in the third quarter evaporate to a 61-all tie with eight minutes remaining.
The game remained tight throughout before Largo managed to pull out the win.
"We had chances," Evans said. "I believe it shows when we come in focused, ready to play, we can play very good. Like I said, I'm really proud of our guys tonight."
Both teams turned in impressive shooting efforts with Largo shooting 52 percent (36-of-69) from the floor while the Panthers turned in one of their best shooting efforts of the season, connecting on a blistering 61 percent (26-of-42) shot attempts from the floor.
Both teams got into foul trouble early, and combined for 48 fouls and 57 free throw attempts.
"Knox Central connected on 26-of-35 from the free-throw line while Largo was 11-of-22.
"We got into some foul trouble, and had to have some different guys handle the ball, and I thought everyone of our guys did a good job of doing that," Evans said.
The Panthers had four players score in double figures with Matthew Barger leading the way with 28 points and six rebounds while hitting nine-of-12 shot attempts and 10-of-13 from the free-throw line.
Chad Marsee turned in a double-double, scoring 16 points while grabbing 11 rebounds while Jeffrey Adams and Dustin Hensley scored 14 points apiece.
Knox Central didn't have an answer for Largo's Abdulai Bundu. Despite seeing Abdulai playing only 24 minutes because of getting into early foul trouble, the junior stand out still managed to score 33 points on 14-of-17 shooting from the floor.
Largo 86, Knox Central 84
Largo 27 18 16 25—86
Knox Cent. 23 22 16 23—84
Largo (86) — Butler 2, Manninmg 15, Boggs 12, Luckett 4, Thomas 10, Thompson 4, Hawkins 3, Green 3, Abdulai 33.
Knox Central (84) — Marsee 16, Cole 9, Adams 14, Barger 28, Hensley 14, Tye 3.