With five seniors back from last year’s 52nd District championship team, expectations are high for the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets this season. Friday night it was a pair of juniors taking center stage as MHS opened the season with a 73-60 win over Barbourville.
Forward Ausin Poindexter came off the bench to lead all scorers with 30 points and grab 10 rebounds while guard Donnie Foister finished with 25 points, including a 7-of-9 effort from the free throw line for the Jackets. Senior Michael Wilson added six points to go along with ten assists in the game.
“We had some guys in foul trouble and Poindexter stepped up. Everyone contributed to this win and I really believe that it could be anyone on any given night,” Jacket coach Russell Thompson said. “Austin is obviously one of the best athletes in the 13th Region and he came to me and said he felt comfortable coming off the bench. That shows a lot of character on his part and for him to play as well as he did in our opener, I’m very proud of him.”
Barbourville (1-1) was led by senior guard Devon Mills, who scored 24 points. Brandon Gray added nine points and Zack Strong eight for the Tigers.
“Anytime you’re playing against Coach Phipps and those Tigers, you know those kids are going to know how to play,” Thompson said. “For our guys to step up and find a way to win is a big accomplishment. They were all pleased with it and I was pleased with their effort.”
Barbourville opened the third quarter on a 7-2 run on two baskets from Mills and a three-point play by Gray to cut a 31-25 halftime deficit to 33-32 with 6:32 to play in the period. But Foister answered with a 3-pointer and the Jackets got baskets from Boone Bowling and Poindexter to push the lead back to 40-32 by the 5:00 mark.
Poindexter scored 15 of his 30 points in the third as the Jackets pulled away. His 15-foot jumper made it 55-38 and it was 55-40 entering the fourth quarter.
“They came out in the third quarter and really took it to another level. That’s what you wan to see out of your team and hopefully we’ll continue to do that,” Thompson added. “There are things we need to clear up as far as protecting a 15-point lead, but we’ll work on that.”
A 3 from Alex Peytona and a layup by Mills brought the Tigers within 59-49 with a little over five minutes to play. But Foister found Poindexter cutting to the basket for a layup and he went on hit five of seven free throws down the stretch.
Poindexter put an exclamation point on the win, rebounding a missed 3-pointer in the closing second and taking the length of the court for a dunk that set the final at 73-60.
Middlesboro hosts Thomas Walker, Va., Monday at 7:30 p.m. while Barbourville heads to Rockcastle County Tuesday.
— — —
Barbourville… 10.. 15.. 15.. 20 — 60
Middlesboro… 15.. 17.. 24.. 18 — 73
BARBOURVILLE (60): Devon Mills 24, Brandon Gray 9, Zack Strong 8, Jacob Rose 6, Jason Mills 4, Kevin Engle 4, Alex Peytona 3, Tanner Moore 2, Austin Eldridge 0, Brentley Perry 0, Collin Grubb 0.
MIDDLESBORO (73): Austin Poindexter 30, Donnie Foister 25, Michael Wilson 6, Boone Bowling 6, Blake Davis 4, Zach Riddle 2, Derek Smith 0.