Senior Travis Smith started the season with just over a 1,000 points. He was presented the game ball against Knoxville Catholic.
It was the tale of two halves Tuesday night as the Corbin Redhounds took on the Clay County Tigers in Bobby Keith Gym.
The first half belong to the Corbin Redhounds who owned a 33-26 lead at the break, but in the second half it was Clay County taking control of the game and outscoring the Redhounds 35-25. The result was a three-point (61-58) victory by the Tigers in an early season showdown by the two region powers.
“It was a game of runs,” Corbin Coach Tony Pietrowski said. “We played really well in the first half.”
“I don’t know if it was a mental lapse there in the second half, we really did a poor job on both ends of the ball,” Pietrowski. “I thought we attack the rim early in the game.”
“They (Clay County) did a really good job feeding the ball to the high post and they exploited us when they did,” added Pietrowski.
“We battled back and gave ourselves another chance. We didn’t give up. This game had a really good feel about it. It had a district or region feel about it,” he said.
“With an inexperienced team we need games like this,” Pietrowski said.
The Redhounds grabbed a 4-0 lead on baskets by Robbie Igo and Travis Smith. Corbin (1-1) maintained its lead throughout the rest of the first quarter and led 11-4 after baskets by Kyle West and Trevor Hill.
But, Clay County fought back behind the play of senior Zach McGeorge, Stephon Lyttle, Kody Reed and Zac Kemp.
The Tigers changed defenses often and went to a 2-3 zone that caused some trouble for the Redhounds.
Corbin led 16-8 before Lyttle, Reed and Kemp scored the final six points of the first quarter.
After going to a 1-2-2 zone, Smith launched a shot over the zone and hit a 3-pointer to push the Redhounds ahead, 19-14.
Some costly turnovers kept Clay County close, but Smith answered with back-to-back baskets that allowed the Redhounds to take a 23-19 lead.
McGeorge pulled the Tigers with one (25-24) before Robbie Igo and Eric Jones answered for Corbin and pushed the Redhounds back on top, 30-24.
Corbin went to the dressing with a 33-26 lead at the half.
The Tigers came out on fire, both offensively and defensively to start the third quarter.
Clay County scored the 10 points of the period to take a 36-33 lead on a Brandon Word basket with 5:10 left in the quarter.
Clay County outscored the Redhounds 20-5 in the third quarter and took a 46-38 lead going into the final quarter.
Corbin refused to quit and battled back throughout the fourth quarter.
Three straight free throws by Smith allowed the Redhounds to pull within 58-56 with 1:05 left in the game.
Junior Steven Wagers put the host ahead 60-56 with :47 seconds left. A basket by Zach Farley and a free throw by the Tigers left the score at 61-58 when Corbin got the ball off a Clay County turnover. Smith took the final shot which would have tied the game, but Wagers was there to step in front of the Corbin guard.
Smith led all scorers with 22 points while Reed had 14 points to pace the Tigers off the bench. Word and Lyttle added 10 points each.
Corbin will play at Lynn Camp Thursday before returning home Friday to play the Jellico Blue Devils.
South Laurel 72
Whitley County 70
The Whitley County Colonels dropped a heartbreaker to the South Laurel Cardinals at Lawson Gym Tuesday night.
After falling behind by as much as 13 points in the third quarter the Colonels battled back to tie the game on a basket by junior Michael Powers with 23: left in the game, but a basket by Austin Schaser with five seconds left enabled the Cardinals to take the two-point win back to London.
It was a district-seeded game for both teams.
“We made a lot of mental mistakes tonight,” Whitley County Coach Jerry Overbey said. “And, we didn’t shoot well from the free throw line.”
The Colonels hit 17-of-32 in the loss to the Cardinals.
It was Whitley County scoring the first six points of the game, but South Laurel got untracked and outscored the Colonels 21-13 the rest of the period, taking a 21-19 lead at the first stop.
South Laurel extended its lead over the Colonels to 37-31 at the half and pushed ahead 51-38 in the third period.
Whitley County went on an 11-6 run to trail 57-49 at the end of the third quarter. That set the stage for a Colonels’ come from behind bid.
Senior Aaron Petrey led the Colonels with 20 points while Powers added 19 points. Freshman James Sasko added 11 points for the Colonels.
Clay Co. 61, Corbin 58
Corbin 16 17 5 20- 58
Clay Co. 12 14 20 15- 61
Clay Co. (61) – McGeorge 8, Word 10, Little 10, Reed 14, Kemp 4.
Corbin (58) – Smith 22, West 8, Berezutchi 6, Jones 3, Igo 8, Hill 9.
South Laurel 72, Whitley Co. 70
South Laurel 21 16 20 15- 72
Whitley Co. 19 12 18 21- 70
South Laurel (72) – Slavey 15, Schaser 13, Sanders 12, Grubb 7, Jones 6, Rader 5, Allen 2, Baxter 8, Mitchell 4.
Whitley Co. (70) – Powers 19, Petrey 20, Sasko 11, Couch 7, Lawson 6, D. Rutherford 2, Zach Rutherford 5.