PINEVILLE — After Tuesday’s season-opening loss to Jackson County Mountain Lion coach J.D. Strange had his team return to the court for an impromptu practice session before the gym had emptied. He wasn’t pleased with how they had executed in that game. There was no need for extra practice Thursday as Pineville downed Thomas Walker, Va., 61-36.
“I thought our kids played better tonight than we did Tuesday. We played with a bit more passion and we played more together,” Strange said.
Senior center John Simpson led the Lions with 23 points. He was joined in double-figures by senior guard Jared Philpot with 10 and sophomore Cody Collett with 10.
The Pioneers were led by Cody Bryant’s 17 points while Justin Catron and Tyler Scott added seven apiece.
The Mountain Lions used a full-court 2-2-1 press after made baskets for much of the game and it succeeded in forcing several turnovers. Three steals helped to fuel a 9-0 spurt to open the second quarter as Pineville broke open a close game.
“Give Thomas Walker a lot of credit. I thought they scrapped and battled and played very, very hard,” Strange added. “Bryant is a nice player and those kids really seem to play well together.”
The Lions led just 15-12 after Philpot hit two free throws with one second left in the first quarter. Collett started the second quarter with a 3-pointer, a Jacob Skinner steal led to a basket by Simpson and two more Simpson layups pushed the lead to 24-12 with 6:08 to play in the half.
“I thought our defense was the big difference, our kids rose up to meet the challenge,” said Strange.
Bryant hit back-to-back 3s to bring the Pioneers within 28-20. But Simpson and Skinner scored inside around a pair of free throws from Collett and it was 35-22 by halftime.
Pineville forced Thomas Walker into missing their first six shots of the third quarter and Simpson scored four more. Tyler Scott’s layup following a steal made it 39-24 but a minute later the Pioneer bench was called for a technical foul.
Philpot hit both free throws and then knocked down a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession as the Lion lead ballooned to 44-24 with just over 3:00 left in the period and Pineville went on to win by 25.
Pineville (1-1) visits Harlan today at 7:30 p.m.
— — —
Thomas Walker… 12… 10… 4.. 10 — 36
Pineville …………….15… 20..13.. 13 — 61
THOMAS WALKER (36): Cody Bryant 17, Justin Catron 7, Tyler Scott 7, Thomas Warf 5, Justin Greer 0, Nich Williams 0, Zach Bailey 0, Dillion Overton 0, Matthew Glass 0, Cody Carter 0.
PINEVILLE (61): John Simpson 23, Jared Philpot 15, Cody Collett 10, Dalton Ledbetter 6, Byron David Asher 4, Jacob Skinner 3, Connor Ford 0, Nate Wilder 0, John Robbins 0.