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Patience pays off for Panthers at HC

While a fast-breaking, 3-point shooting style is fun to watch and helped the Knox Central Panthers get off to a 14-1 start this season, coach Tony Patterson said Corbin provided a dose of reality for his Panthers in an 81-67 loss Friday night.

Knox Central appeared to learn from the mistakes of a night earlier on Saturday at Harlan County, focusing on improved shot selection and attacking the basket in a 69-60 victory against the defending 13th Region champs.

“We settled too much last night. We were four of 20 on 3s and probably only three of them were good shots,” Patterson said. “We do better when we attack the basket and get out in transition. If we can’t, we’ll learn to be patient. I think they grew up in that area a little tonight. We showed a lot of patience late. We know the district and region will be low scoring, and we have to learn to play that way. We work on it every day. To reach the goals we want to reach we have to get better at it.”

Four Panthers reached double figures in the win, led by junior guard Dane Imel with 19 points. Markelle Turner and Kevionte Turner scored 16 each. Nick Martin added 10.

“We played hard and did a pretty good job on defense for the most part,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “We held (Markelle) Turner and Martin to 26 points, but Imel and the other Turner hurt us. This is a tough one.”

Harlan County (14-3) was led by senior guard Drew Nolan with 20 points. Junior guard Alex Pace added 15 points, all in the first quarter on five 3-pointers as the Bears got off to a great start. Pace hit his first five shots as the Bears raced to a 22-8 lead.

“We started out sluggish. It kind of carried over from last night,” Patterson said. “We got lost. It didn’t matter what defense we were in. We finally did a better job of finding them. Pace was real hot early, and the other kids can shoot them, too, which makes them so dangerous. We did a good job the second half.”

Turner had success working into the lane, hitting three shots in the final two minutes of the period as the Panthers cut the deficit to 24-16.

Imel and Martin combined to hit seven of seven shots in the second quarter as the Panthers slowly chipped away at the lead, getting as close as one with 2:10 left on two straight baskets by Martin. Price scored on a putback and Creech converted a three-point play for a 38-34 lead. Imel hit one of three at the line with no time left on the clock at halftime to pull the Panthers within three.

Knox hit 10 of 15 shots in the third quarter as Markelle Turner was able to work in the lane to set up good shots, especially after Andrew Creech went out in the opening minute of the period with his fourth foul. The Panthers opened the half with a 10-2 run and took a 57-49 lead into the final period.

The Bears battled back to within four on a couple of baskets by Nolan but missed numerous opportunities to get closer.

“We got off to a great start, but the third quarter really got us,” Jones said. “We didn’t handle their pressure well and got in some foul trouble. We had our chance late in the game. They didn’t score for a while there, but we just couldn’t make a shot. We got some great looks. We knew even when we got off to a good start that they would make a run. They are very talented and athletic. We just didn’t respond coming out at halftime, and we have to do a better job of that.”

Harlan County travels to Whitley County on Monday. Knox Central plays host to Frederick Douglas on Tuesday.

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Sophomore center Elisha Smallwood grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw and went the length of the court to hit the game-winning shot as Harlan County won 40-38 in junior varsity action.

Freshman guard Tyler Cole scored 15 points and Smallwood added 10 for the Bears. Alex Nantz contributed nine points. Josh Turner scored four and Hunter Helton added two.

Junior guard Dalton Elliott scored 11 points and sophomore forward Zach Moser added 10 for the Panthers. Zach Patterson chipped in with seven, followed by T.J. Terrell and Zach Abner with four each and Zach Taylor with two.

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Knox Central 69, Harlan County 60

KNOX CENTRAL (15-2)

Markelle Turner 8-17 0-0 16, Jaylen Adams 2-6 0-0 4, Dane Imel 9-15 1-3 19, Kevionte Turner 6-9 4-5 16, Nick Martin 5-9 0-0 10, Jermel Carton 2-3 0-0 4, Zach Patterson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 32-59 5-8 69.

HARLAN COUNTY (14-3)

Andrew Creech 3-9 1-1 7, Drew Nolan 8-14 2-7 20, Alex Pace 5-11 0-0 15, Tyrese Simmons 4-9 1-2 9, Lamar Burkhart 2-4 0-0 4, Gabe Price 1-2 0-0 2, Patrick Bynum 1-4 1-1 3. Totals: 24-53 5-11 60.

Knox Central 16 19 22 12 — 69

Harlan County 24 14 11 11 — 60

3-point goals: Knox Central 0-5 (Adams 0-1, Imel 0-1, K. Turner 0-1, M. Turner 0-2), Harlan County 7-21 (Pace 5-10, Nolan 2-6, Price 0-1, Simmons 0-2, Burkhart 0-2). Rebounds: Knox Central 25 (Adams 6, Imel 6, K. Turner 6, Martin 4, M. Turner 2, Carton 1), Harlan County 28 (Nolan 7, Simmons 7, Pace 4, Price 4, Creech 3, Bynum 2, Burkhart 1). Turnovers: Knox Central 5, Harlan County 11.