TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Dan Connell / Staff Writer
CORBIN — Saturday's championship game of the Cumberland Falls Invitational Tournament was perhaps a postseason preview of things to come as two of the 13th Region's top girls teams met for the first time this season at Gilliam Gymnasium.
Maci Morris and the Bell County Lady Bobcats wanted to play the role of spoiler on Corbin's home court by denying the Lady Redhounds their first crown as tournament champions.
When all was settled, Bell County narrowly escaped with an 83-82 victory.
“Bell County is just a tremendous team,” Corbin coach Jason McDaniel. “They are obviously one of the best teams in the 13th Region and you've got to give them credit for the way they play.”
Both teams wasted no time putting points on the board early in the contest. After several basket exchanges, Bell County's half-court defensive trap began to create problems for the Lady Redhound offense and forced Corbin into several turnovers. The Lady Bobcats went to their senior leader, Maci Morris, who scored quickly and effectively for Bell County throughout the first quarter. However, Morris picked up two early fouls and went to the bench before the end of the period.
The Lady Bobcats did not appear phased minus Morris on the court and led 28-18 at the end of the first period.
Corbin's Miranda Wilson and Natalie Gallagher rallied their team back from the 10-point deficit. Each contributed to a 5-0 Corbin run in the second quarter and the Lady Redhounds came up big on the defensive end. Morris sat out most of the second quarter, but Bell County remained in the lead 45-40 at halftime.
Morris returned to Bell County's starting lineup in the second half and the Lady Bobcats received the spark they needed. Bell County's defensive pressure continued to plague Corbin as the Lady Redhounds found themselves down by as many as 21 points in the third period.
A large part of Bell County's offense came from points off turnovers during the quarter with Morris coming up with big plays on both ends of the court. Corbin's offensive struggle led only to 10 points during the period and Bell County held a comfortable 66-50 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
Corbin wasn't ready to call it a night. The Lady Redhounds mounted a furious fourth quarter rally. Corbin began scoring from long range as Kayla Wilson knocked down a three to cut the lead to 12 points. Jaclyn Jewell would follow with a three of her own, cutting the Bell County lead to single digits with under six minutes remaining. Corbin trailed by nine points with just over three minutes remaining when Sarah Ashley led the fourth quarter Lady Redhound charge.
Morris's shot on the ensuing possession rimmed out and Corbin's final opportunity for a game-winning basket came up empty at the buzzer.
“I'm really, really blessed and proud of our girls tonight,” McDaniel said. “They (Bell County) put us back on our heels and made quite a bit of a run in the third quarter.
“There are things we need to work on and we will as we go along this season,” he added.
The Lady Redhounds will resume action on Tuesday at Casey County.
Bell County 83, Corbin 82
Bell Co. 28 17 21 17 - 83
Corbin 18 22 10 32 - 82
Corbin (82) - Miranda Wilson 17, Ashley 14, K Wilson 12, Jewell 12, Melanie Wilson 10, Gallagher 8, Ashurst 4, Waddle 3, Blackburn 2
Bell County (83) - Morris 39, Sanders 16, Garnett 11, Collins 10, Johnson 5, Smith 2