An all around scoring effort by Cumberland Gap led the Panthers to a 48-30 victory over Bell County on Friday. Cumberland Gap led wire-to-wire despite the Bobcats cutting the lead to single digits on several occasions.
Trent Graves led the way for the Panthers with 10 points. Bubba Lake, Preston England and Jacob Bullins narrowly missed out on double figures. Lake finished the game with nine points off the bench. England and Bullins finished the game with eight.
A strong defensive effort by Cumberland Gap limited chances for Bell. No player scored double figures for the Bobcats.
“They played real strong defense,” said Bell coach Lewis Morris. “I got guards that are young, and (Cumberland Gap) moved us out of position a little bit. (Cumberland Gap) plays physical. I thought they were going to zone because they’ve zoned the last few year, but they came out and played a good man-to-man.”
Antonio Zachery paced the offense with seven points off the bench. Trey Brock and Tyler Partin finished the game with six points, and Kyle Burnett added four points to the scoreboard.
“We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole,” said Morris. “We were in the game. We were where we wanted to be until we had to start running and trying to get a couple of steals and stuff.”
“We’ve got to find some scoring from a variety of different people, and I think we will get better at that as the year goes on.”
In what was a slow first quarter, the Panthers built an 8-2 lead with Bell’s only basket coming off a jump shot from Zachery with just over two minutes left in the quarter.
Cumberland Gap started the second quarter on a 6-0 run that extended their lead to 14-2. Graves started the run with a 3-pointer. Kaleb Franklin scored the final three points off free throws.
Burnett stopped the run with two free throws to cut the lead to 14-4 with 5:36 remaining in the half. The two teams traded baskets throughout the remainder of the half with Partin ending the quarter on a layup to narrow the lead to 23-12 going into halftime.
Bell County cut the lead to single digits early in the third quarter. Colby Frazier scored on an old fashion three-point play to cut the lead to 23-15. The score was narrowed to 23-16 after Victor Morris went 1-for-2 on technical free throws with 5:52 remaining in the third.
The Bobcats cut the lead to five midway through the third. Following a putback basket by Bullins, baskets from Burnett and Zachery narrowed the lead to 25-20.
The Panthers went on an 8-0 run at the end of the quarter. The run was capped off by a Evan Jackson 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave Cumberland Gap a 33-20 lead heading into the fourth.
The Panthers went on to outscore the Bobcats 15-10 en route to an 18-point home victory.
Bell County (0-2) played Estill County on Saturday before they travel to Harlan County (2-0) at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday for their first district game.
Cumberland Gap travels to West Greene on Wednesday.
Bell County went on the road Saturday to battle Estill County. The Engineers routed the Bobcats 67-30 to hand Bell County their third consecutive loss.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN