The Bell County Bobcats will look to continue their stretch of regional tournament appearances this year while boasting a young roster. The Bobcats have been to the 13th Region tournament three straight years with their last absence being in the 2012-13 season.
“We got a tough schedule. We’ve got a couple of good tournaments we’re in,” said Bell coach Lewis Morris. “We’re probably going to take some lumps here and there, but hopefully by the end of the year they’ll be playing a little better.”
The 2015-16 season
Last year, Bell County had an up-and-down season. They finished the year 12-17 overall while going 4-3 in the district. All their district wins came against Middlesboro and Harlan.
The Bobcats were 9-7 through early January before hitting a rough stretch of games through the remainder of the season. From Jan. 12 through Feb. 2, the team went 0-5 against several regional opponents including South Laurel, Whitley County, Harlan County, Corbin and North Laurel.
Despite going through their ups and downs, Bell County advanced to the district championship against Harlan County and moved on to the regional tournament. The Bobcats were eliminated in the regional by region champion South Laurel.
While the team only graduated three seniors, the Bobcats will be without the double-double machine that was Zach Partin. Partin averaged 17.5 points and 11 rebounds last year.
The team returns three seniors that have ample varsity playing time. Victor Morris is the only returning player that averaged double digit points a year ago with 11.9 points per game. He also led the team in free-throw percentage shooting at a 79 percent clip from the charity stripe.
Ethan Gambrel and Dalton Callebs return experience at the guard positions. Gambrel has led the team at the point for the majority of his tenure at Bell County. He averaged 4.1 points while Callebs averaged 4.7 points per game.
Kyle Burnett and Tyler Partin will anchor down the frontcourt for the Bobcats. Burnett saw limited minutes last season in 19 games. Both players will be receiving substantial minutes on the varsity team for the first time in their careers.
Partin took advantage of that time during the SEKC Panorama by leading the team with eight points.
The remainder of the rotation will depend heavily on youth. Underclassmen Trey Brock, Ryan Lambdin, Colby Frazier and Issac Collett will see minutes throughout the season.
Of the players, Collett saw the most time last season. He played in 20 games while averaging 3.1 points off the bench.
“We’ve just got to keep working. We got a lot of work to do,” said Morris. “I’m getting a lot of kids out that’s going to help, but it’s going to take us a while to get where we want to. Usually, we don’t even worry. We try to hope for January that we’re playing some good basketball.”
Bell County opens the 2016-17 season on the road at 7:30 p.m. against Clay County.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN