By Les Dixon
HARLAN COUNTY — Whitley County’s quest to win the 13th Region championship for the first time since winning it all in 1985 fell short Saturday with a disappointing 65-56 loss to Bell County.
The Lady Colonels (20-11) couldn’t overcome a slow start, as the Lady Bobcats’ Maci Morris scored 34 points and pulled down 11 rebounds while shooting a perfect 16-of-16 from the free-throw line during the win.
Whitley County head coach Larry Anderson, who is stepping down after 26 years as Lady Colonel coach, said he began to worry on Friday that his team might be in some trouble.
“I saw it yesterday in practice,” he admitted. “We just didn’t have it in practice. We stopped practice after about five minutes and talked about it — them not having the excitement when we came up here on Tuesday having to play Clay County. I don’t know if coming back from a big emotional win was hard to bring us back in.
“I told the coaches before the game we weren’t ready,” he added. “We didn’t have the excitement — we just weren’t ready. You’ve got to bring the excitement to every game in the region tournament and we just didn’t have it.”
Even with the slow start, Whitley County put up a fight.
The Lady Colonels trailed 22-13 after the first quarter and 35-24 at halftime on nine-of-27 shooting from the floor, but they forced 11 turnovers in the third quarter and cut their deficit to three points (43-40) going into the final quarter of play.
“We were able to get back in the game and we had some chances, but we just missed two many free throws late and they made theirs,” Anderson said.
After two free throws by Brandi Smith made the score 43-42, the Lady Bobcats took control of the game from free-throw line. Bell County hit 18-of-22 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter alone and 28-of-32 for the game.
Whitley County on the other hand struggled.
The Lady Colonels misfired on eight-of-15 free throw attempts in the game’s final eight minutes and went 16-of-25 for the game.
“See that’s just not us,” Anderson said. “It’s just one of those things.”
Whitley County also struggled from three-point range, shooting only three-of-20 for 15 percent.
“We had the same thing happen to us in the region last year (against North Laurel),” Anderson said. “We shot four-of-24 and lost. The problem when you live by the three, you die by it.
“We did a good job fighting back,” he added. “This is hard on being my last game, but the kids have given me so much. It’s odd to think I won’t be coaching next year. I’ll sit back and weigh my options. Some other opportunities have been offered, but I’ll don’t have to do anything right now and I don’t feel bad doing that.”
13th Region Girls Tournament at Harlan County High School
Bell County 65,
Whitley County 56
Whitley County 13 11 16 16 56
Bell County 22 13 8 22 65
Whitley County (56) — Powers 9, Smith 26, Johnson 12, Craig 7, Jones 2.
Bell County (65) — Morris 34, Sanders 15, Garnett 6, Smith 5, Johnson 1, Collins 4.
Slow start leads to Whitley County’s 65-56 loss to Bell County
By Les Dixon
- Local Sports
The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are partying like it's 1987! That was the last time the Jackets won a game in the 13th Region Tournament, and they ended the 27-year drought with a 47-44 win over the heavily-favored Knox Central Panthers on Thursday night.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'Em
When it comes to picking region tournament games, it’s not an easy task to say the least. This is the most parity that I’ve ever seen in the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments.
If Clay County’s play during the first game of the 13th Region Tournament is any indication of things to come, Robert Marcum’s squad could be well on its way of capturing their second straight 13th Region championship.
The Way it is
Since I’m picking Corbin to pull off the upset against Jackson County today, I figured I’d give my top five upsets dating back to 2005-06 when the 13th realigned and welcomed both North and South Laurel high schools to the mix.
Tony Pietrowski’s Corbin Redhounds have been favored during the past two first round 13th Region match-ups, and have been upset both times. Corbin is hoping things might change a bit this time around.
Barbourville will have hands full against Bell County today
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are looking for their first 13th Region Tournament win dating back to 2006’s tournament when they defeated Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Like It or Not
There’s an elephant in the room at this year’s 13th Region Tournament, and really in basketball in general, and I guess I’ll be the first one to point it out (publicly with my name attached to it).
Chris' Daily Region Pick'Em
With the first three days of opening round games in the books, I can honestly say I'm not surprised that I'm 4-2 overall when it comes to my pick'ems record.
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
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