With just under 10 seconds remaining in the game and possession of the ball, Middlesboro looked in position to either stun the Mountain Lions or watch the game go into overtime with the game tied.
Like a thief in the night, Will Adams stole both opportunities as he forced a turnover and was intentionally fouled while driving for a layup with 1.1 seconds remaining. He hit one of his two free throws to give Pineville the lead. Middlesboro instantly fouled on the inbound pass and watched Josh Lawson hit a free throw to secure the 60-58 Pineville win on Tuesday.
“I thought Middlesboro did a great job of attacking the basket. We forced them into some turnovers early, but when they didn’t turn it over they were still able to get to the rim,” said Pineville coach JD Strange. “It was a dog fight. I give coach (Isaac) Wilson and Middlesboro a lot of credit. It’s a good rivalry with Pineville and Middlesboro, and we were very fortunate to come out on top tonight.”
The Mountain Lions’ offensive attack picked up in the second half. The team garnered 41-second half points to help pull out the win.
“We were trying to be a little bit more patient (in the second half). When were pressing ourself offensively. We were trying to make the play real quick,” said Strange about the first half. “We did a good job (in the second half) of putting our people in the right spots.”
Trent Lefevers had another 20-plus point outing. The senior finished with 26 points while going 11-for-12 from the free-throw line. He scored 19 of his points in the second half.
Lawson tallied 12 points during the game, and Tucker Woolum finished the game with 11 points. Cody Carnes added 10 points to the scoreboard.
For Middlesboro, the team suffered another close defeat. It was their fourth straight game with a single-digit point differential.
“I’m really proud of my guys. We played a really good basketball game,” said Middlesboro coach Isaac Wilson. “We fell a little bit short tonight. It’s a hard pill to swallow. As long as you learn something from it, I don’t think that you can care too much about it.”
“When you get down toward the end of the year and you find yourself in the same situation that we found ourselves in tonight — when you learn things from it — you’ll be on the happy end of this in February. That’s where I’d rather be than on the happy end of it in December.”
Christian Hubbard and Jabari Kyle paced the Jacket offense with 15 points apiece. Kyle went a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe, and Hubbard hit five of his seven free throws. Josh Overbay added eight points to the scoreboard.
Rhyan Rogers led the bench in scoring with six points. Nick Poindexter and TJ Patterson scored five points apiece off the bench.
“We struggled a little bit shooting the ball tonight up until the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, we had to knock down a few shots,” said Wilson. “We found ourselves down five, six points. We were able to knock those shots down and get ourselves back in the ball game.”
“It speak volumes for those kids being able to erase the last shot they took and just know they’re going to knock the next one down. When they shoot the basketball, I think that’s the mentality they have. That’s the mentality they’ve got to keep for our team to be successful throughout the year.”
Middlesboro found themselves leading Pineville 21-19 at halftime. The Mountain Lions were able to reclaim the lead with just under five minutes remaining in the third. A Lefevers layup gave Pineville a 27-26 lead.
After Carnes hit a free throw, Kyle hit a jumper to tie the game a 28-28. A layup from Lefevers temporarily gave Pineville a two-point lead before a four-point play from Rogers gave Middlesboro a 32-30 lead with 3:04 remaining in the period.
The lead grew to 34-30 following a tip in from Patterson moments later. A pull-up jumper from Kyle grew the lead to six points with just over two minutes remaining in the third.
Pineville was able to fight there way back into the game. A layup from Lawson brought the score to 41-37 with only seconds remaining in the third.
There was a little added controversy at the end of the third. With 5.9 seconds remaining, the Mountain Lions inbounded the ball, but the clock did not start. Lefevers pulled up and nailed a 3-pointer shortly before the buzzer sounded to cut the Jacket to 41-40 heading into the final quarter.
Neither team could pull away in the fourth quarter. With under three minutes remaining in the game, Pineville grabbed a 55-50 lead after a layup form Lefevers. Moments later, Overbay hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 55-53.
With just over two minutes remaining, Overbay nailed a second 3-pointer to give the Jackets a 56-55 lead. Two free throws from Kyle increased the Middlesboro lead to 58-55 with 32.1 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Mountain Lions didn’t go away quietly as Lawson found room an hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 58-58 with 9.1 seconds left.
The Pineville defense stepped up on the ensuing inbound pass. Adams stole the inbound pass and pushed toward the basket before being fouled with 1.1 seconds remaining.
The refs called an intentional foul which allowed the Lions to take two free throws and retain possession. Adams hit one free throw to give Pineville a 59-58 lead.
Middlesboro was forced to foul with less than a second left on the clock. Lawson hit one free throw before intentionally missing the second to allow the Mountain Lions to walk away with a two-point victory.
Pineville (9-1) will host South Floyd (5-4) at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the opening day of the Pine Mountain Classic.
Middlesboro (2-7) will also play in the Pine Mountain Classic on Wednesday. They will meet Jackson City (3-7) at 1 p.m.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN