Whitley County got 3-pointers from Zack Rutherford and Corey Johnson to surge into the lead in the third quarter and held off Bell County late for a 64-61 win over the Bobcats on Tuesday.
“I know everybody thinks it’s a bad loss for us, but Whitley County came to play and they executed,” Bell coach Lewis Morris said. “We looked like a young team out there and we’re not. We’ve got a lot of experience and we should be better at handling different defenses and things like that even though it’s early in the year.”
The Colonels may have benefited from having a game under their belt with play being called tighter this year. Bell County battled foul trouble from the first quarter on and Whitley hit 21 of 32 free throws while the Bobcats were just 7 of 14 from the line in the game.
Senior guard Tyler Potter scored ten of his game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter for Bell County, but the Bobcats could never get the lead. The Colonels hit just five of ten free throws in the final period, but Bell missed four free throws of their own and their shot to tie it at the buzzer was off the mark.
James Sasko led Whitley with 15 points while Casey Crisologo scored 14 off the bench and Rutherford added 10. Johnson, an eighth-grader, hit three 3s for nine points.
Senior forward Josh Asher finished with 14 points for the Bobcats while sophomore forward Zach Partin scored six before fouling out.
“We didn’t play very well at all and that’s my fault. We’ve been looking really good and passing the ball, but tonight everybody wanted to dribble and it was just a bad night,” Morris said. “Whitley County did a good job, they’re a tough matchup for us. They spread us out and we didn’t guard well.”
Bell got off to a strong start with Asher scoring four points and Chase Woolum three as the Bobcats opened the game with a 7-0 run. Levi Barton hit two free throws to get the Colonels on the board but Partin scored inside to make it 9-2 just over two minutes in.
A short time later Asher picked up his second foul and went to the bench and Partin would join him there with two fouls later in the quarter. Crisologo scored six points in the period and a 3 from Johnson gave Whitley a 13-11 lead. Potter hit a 3-pointer and then added a layup after a steal by Donovan Napier as the Bobcats led 16-15 after one.
Potter scored 12 of his points in the second quarter and Bell’s lead grew to 28-22 on a Jake Patterson basket with 3:34 to go in the first half. Whitley got another 3 from Johnson, a Barton basket and a free throw from Rutherford to tie it back up.
“Foul trouble hurt us and got us out of rhythm a little bit, but we still were off balance all night long,” said Morris. “People were not getting to where they were supposed to be, there was no focus. It was not what a team with a lot of seniors should be.”
Whitley’s Chad Foley and Potter traded four points each over the final minute of the half with Potter spinning into the lane and knocking down a 13-foot jumper to make it 32-32 at the half.
Rutherford scored seven of his ten points in the third quarter, he and Johnson hit 3s while Sasko and Crisologo scored four points each in the period as Whitley jumped out in front. Asher and Partin combined for ten points, Ferguson made a basket and Potter hit a 3 but the Colonels carried a 51-47 lead into the fourth quarter and held on to win by three.
“We have got to find some way to guard somebody. I don’t know what it’s going to be but we will do a lot better job of guarding people before it’s over with, I know that,” Morris added. “We did a poor job all the way around, coaches and players. It’s early in the year, hopefully we’ll get better.”
Bell County (0-1) returns to action on Friday at Jackson County while Whitley County (2-0) plays at Wayne County on Saturday.
— — —
WHITLEY COUNTY (64) — James Sasko 15, Zack Rutherford 10, Chad Foley 4, Levi Barton 7, Devin Rutherford 0, Casey Crisologo 14, Corey Johnson 9, Luke Woods 3, Adam Petrey 2, Cameron Johnson 0.
BELL COUNTY (61) — Tyler Potter 32, Josh Asher 14, Zach Partin 6, Jake Patterson 4, Chase Woolum 3, Cody Ferguson 2, Cody Carnes 0, Jacob Hunley 0, Ben Collett 0, Donovan Napier 0.