By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
KNOX CENTRAL — Despite holding a 29-23 lead at halftime, the Knox Central Panthers dropped a 54-46 decision to Jackson County at home Thursday.
The loss is the fourth in five games for Knox Central, who has struggled with the injury big lately. The Panthers recently benefitted from the return of Matt Barger, but are without big man Chad Marsee for another week.
Dustin Hensley paced the Panthers with 11 points and Jeffrey Adams added 10. They were the only two Knox Central players to reach double figures.
Jackson County took advantage of another big night from senior center Steven Wagers, who tallied 20 points. Jordan Fox added 12 for the Generals.
Knox Central head coach Brian Evans said he felt that if his team could get everyone back on the court, things can turn around quickly for the Panthers, but said that wasn’t why they lost Thursday’s game.
“We’re still very much piecing things together and I know it’s late in the year to be doing that,” Evans said. “I knew we would have to play well tonight and we weren’t very good offensively, but I give Jackson County credit for that.
“They did a good job and we just never could get comfortable or get into any kind of rhythm on offense, nor did we get the job done on the other end,” he added. “We gave too many points around the basket and too many second-chance shots and those things kill you.”
Jackson County jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the first quarter, but the Panthers traded baskets to close the quarter trailing 12-10.
Knox Central tied things up to start the second quarter on a quick basket by Tobie Merida and went on to outscore the Generals 19-11 in the quarter, grabbing a 29-23 lead at the break.
Jackson County turned the tables in the third quarter in the scoring column, using a 12-7 effort to trim the gap to one point with eight minutes to play in the game.
The wheels fell off for Knox Central in the fourth quarter as the Generals scored the first seven points of the period, holding their opponent without a basket until the 5:30 mark, trimming the lead to 42-38.
A basket and a pair of free throws from Fox put the Generals’ lead back to 46-28, but five straight points by Adams gave the Panthers hope, trailing 48-44.
Jackson County outscored the Panthers 6-2 from that point to seal the 54-46 win.
Knox Central connected on just 20-of-42 shot attempts and made good on 4-of-8 free throws, while Jackson County made 16-of-49 shot attempts and 19-of-26 free throws.
The Panthers will be back in action Saturday when they face Paul Lawrence Dunbar in the Kentucky Prep Showcase at either Breathitt County or Jackson City School.
Jackson County 54, Knox Central 46
Jackson Co. 12 11 12 19 54
Knox Central 10 19 7 10 46
Jackson Co. (54) – Wagers 20, Fox 12, Hammons 8, Lawson 6, Bingham 5, Whitehead 3.
Knox Central (46) – Hensley 11, Adams 10, Merida 9, Cole 6, Wilburn 4, Wyatt 4, Barger 2.