The Pineville Lady Mountain Lions turned back multiple furious fourth quarter rallies to hang on for a 64-60 win over Knox Central on Saturday in 51st District action.
“That’s a good district win for us,” Lady Lion coach Brenda Gambrel said. “To me, we’re still struggling with some things. But that’s one win down, we’ve got a lot of work to go and we’re going to keep improving.”
Pineville led it 45-35 after three quarters, but the game was far from over. The Lady Panthers got two baskets from Abigail Mills and one free throw from Toni McCombs and also missed on two other chances to cut into the lead — and that was just in the first minute of the final quarter.
It was a haphazard fourth period that saw the teams combine for 18 turnovers (ten by Pineville, eight by Knox Central) and score 44 points. The Lady Panthers somehow got off 24 shots over the final eight minutes and hit nine of them. They also managed to go 4-of-14 from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, Pineville hit 13 of their 23 free throws and went 3-of-8 from the field.
After turning the ball over on their first three possession of the quarter, the Lady Lions got two free throws from Emily Mullins and later a basket from Erica Gambrell to go up 50-42 by the 5:35 mark.
Both teams continued to play full-court defense as the tempo stayed fast for the rest of the game.
“Our best defense has come when we’re in man-to-man. During practice last week I decide that from now on, we’re just going to get after it,” Gambrel said. “I told them, From here on out I want you up in their jersey. If you need a break let me know and I’ll get someone else in there for a minute or two, but we’re not backing down. I think that was a key for us.”
Knox Central got a basket from Taylor Patterson followed by a Sydni Hammontree steal that led to a three-point play by McCombs to cut it to 52-49.
Gambrell, who led Pineville with 26 points, answered with baskets to keep the Lady Lion lead between three and five points. Jillian Enix hit one free throw and then consecutive Knox Central turnovers led to two free throws from Gambrell and two from Mullins. That had the Lady Lions up 62-54 with 1:15 to go.
“Erica Gambrell stepped up and did what I’ve been trying to get her to do. She flat out did everything well for us in this one,” coach Gambrel said.
It still wasn’t over, as Pineville missed six straight free throws and Hammontree converted a three-point play and then hit a 3-pointer to bring the Lady Panthers within 62-60 with 29 seconds left.
Mills had a good look a potential go-ahead 3 from the corner with about 15 seconds to play, but it was bit long and Mullins ran down the rebound. Gambrell hit both of her free throws with 12.7 seconds on the clock and Knox Central’s final shot was off the mark as the Lady Lions held on.
Tyra McNeil led the Lady Panthers with 26 points while Hammontree finished with 17 off the bench. Joining Gambrell in double-figures for the Lady Lions were Mullins with 17 points and Devin Enix with 12.
Pineville (6-6, 1-2 in district play) will return to action on Friday at South Laurel. Knox Central (3-9, 0-1) will host Barbourville on Wednesday.
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KNOX CENTRAL (60) — Tyra McNeil 26, Taylor Patterson 4, Melanie Gregory 4, Cassi Hale 0, Mariah Barrett 0, Sydni Hammontree 17, Toni McCombs 5, Abigail Mills 4, Kammey Bargo 0, Maddie Pennington 0.
PINEVILLE (64) — Erica Gambrell 26, Emily Mullins 17, Devin Enix 12, Jillian Enix 6, Rachel Barnes 3, Sophia Knuckles 0, Autumn Short 0, Makayla Keyes 0.