With Bell clinging to a 26-24 lead late in the second quarter, Whitaker drove inside and was fouled on a layup attempt by Knox Central's Corey Williamson. Whitaker landed hard on his back and quickly got up and ran off the court. He came back out and hit one of two free throws, then went to the floor holding his back.
Taking every precaution, the training staff kept Whitaker in that spot until an ambulance arrived. He was taken off on a stretcher and immediately went to Pineville Community Hospital for X-rays. There was no official word on his condition Friday night, but speculation at the game was that he may have suffered some broken ribs.
With their leading scorer out of the game, the Bobcats turned to his little brother. Freshman point guard Josh Whitaker scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half as the Bobcats pulled away for the 18-point win.
Senior swingman Trey Goins stepped up big in the third quarter, scoring seven of his 14 points as Bell outscored the Panthers 22-15 to open up a ten-point lead.
Senior forward Jordan Turner came off the bench to score seven of his 13 points in the fourth as the Bobcats extended their lead to as many as 20.
Hot-shooting sophomore Cody Miller and Williamson, a senior forward, scored four points apiece for Knox Central in the first period. But Bell sophomore guard Shawnta Zachery threw in seven points and Ryan Whitaker added four as Bell built a 16-9 first quarter lead.
Miller hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored ten of his team-high 16 points in the second period as the Panthers got right back in it. The teams stayed within two or three points for most of the period.
Williamson was the only other Knox Central player in double figures with 14 points.
Both teams return to action Tuesday with Bell County (21-4) visiting Barbourville while Knox Central (12-11) hosts Southwestern.
- - -
Knox Central 9 15 15 11 - 50
Bell County 16 11 22 19 - 68
KNOX CENTRAL (50): Cody Miller 16, Corey Williamson 14, Tony Mills 7, Josh Brown 6, Chad Messer 5, Jacob Scalf 2.
BELL COUNTY (68): Josh Whitaker 15, Trey Goins 14, Jordan Turner 13, Shawnta Zachery 10, Ryan Whitaker 7, Robert Warren 7, Kyle Nelson 2.