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Hounds move on with win over Estill

LEXINGTON — A few minutes after his Corbin Redhounds were able to beat this year’s Sweet 16 Cinderella, coach Tony Pietrowski was ready to take on the underdog’s role in the next round with a likely matchup against top-ranked Scott County and Bllly Hicks, his former coach.

“If we hang around here long enough maybe everyone will get behind us,” said Pietrowski after his Redhounds knocked off Estill County 50-40 on Wednesday in the opening game of the state tournament at Rupp Arena. “We knew it would be a tough task here today. A lot of people were calling Estill County the Cinderella of the tournament, but we knew they were a good team.”

Corbin (26-7) won despite an off night on offense that included 39 percent (20 of 52) shooting from the field and 58 percent (seven of 12) from the line.

“It was a grind for us the first half. We didn’t shoot it well,” Pietrowski said.

After Estill County battled back from an eight-point deficit to pull even at 23-23 by halftime, the Engineers took a one-point lead early in the third quarter on an Andrew Doty free throw. Corbin responded by forcing three straight turnovers that Chandler Stewart turned into six straight points to give the Redhounds a lead they never relinquished.

Estill County coach Jon Bentley said the 6-0 run was a crucial point of the game.

“Good teams take advantage of things like that and they got a couple of layups,” he said. “Corbin is a very well-coached team and they made plays when they had to.”

Stewart scored 16 points to lead a balanced Corbin attack that also featured 15 points from Andrew Taylor and 10 from Chase Sanders. Taylor, one of the state’s top players, suffered through some rare struggles on offense as he missed seven of 13 shots from the field and three of six at the line.

“We got a lot more balanced going into district play and had to battle through some adversity this year,” Pietrowski said. “I’m proud of my guys.”

“I don’t feel I have to do it all anymore,” added Taylor. “Several of the guys are taking pressure off me. We have more options now.”

Corbin stretched its lead to nine late in the third quarter but Estill battled back to within four by the end of the quarter and trailed by only two when Andrew Doty scored with 4:22 left to make it 42-40.

The Redhounds went to their spread offense at that point and Corbin scored the game’s final eight points, beginning with a basket by Stewart. Taylor and his younger brother, Matt, also had baskets.

“It was a little early,” said Pietrowski of the switch to the spread offense. “We were trying to spread them out and make them come out and guard us.”

Estill County (26-8) was led by senior guard Caleb Bonny with 14 points.

The Engineers were making their first appearance in the state tournament after upsetting Knott Central in the 14th Region Tournament finals last week.

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Corbin 50, Estill County 40

ESTILL COUNTY (26-8)

Andrew Doty 7, Lane Doty 6, Joe Benton 6, Kevin Richardson 7, Caleb Bonny 14, Jerry O’Hair 0, Chase Muncie 0, Cobbe Click 0, Will Isfort 0, Dyllon Long 0, Logan Napier 0.

CORBIN (26-7)

Brody Barton 0, Chase Sanders 11, Chandler Stewart 16, Andrew Taylor 15, Matthew Taylor 6, Cameron Maguet 1, Taylor Johnson 0, Ethan Wine 2, Jacob Unthank 0, Braden Dickerson 0, Alex Bryley 0, Bailey Rice 0.

Estill County 10 13 11 6 — 40

Corbin 15 8 15 12 — 50

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Scott County survived quite a scare in the second game to edge Louisville Trinity 54-53, earning a matchup against Corbin in the quarterfinals.

Billy Hicks, the Scott County coach, is an Ages native who coached at Evarts and Harlan before moving on to Corbin in 1986, where he stayed for eight years. He said the game against Corbin will be special.

“The first time I coached in this buidling, (Corbin coach) Tony Pietrowski was my point guard,” Hicks said after the Cardinals’ win. “Corbin is always a special place for me. Corbin has a very good team.”

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Hicks, a 1970 Evarts graduate who still has family in Harlan County, said he opposed any changes to the state tournament, including seeding.

“You can’t seed. Leave it alone,” Hicks said. “It’s such a great event.”