Free Throws doom Panthers in stunning 13th Region lose.

Knox Central implodes in final 22.9 seconds.

Knox Central’s Matthew Barger brings the ball into the front court. The clock shows Clay County 53 – Knox Central 52, 1:50 remaining in the fourth quarter with a trip to the 13th Region championship game on the line.

Barger surveys the Clay County zone looking for an opening. Senior Jeffrey Adams spots up along the right sideline outside the three point line as Barger delivers him the ball. Adams lets it fly hitting nothing but the bottom of the net as the clock ticks down to 1:48 pushing the Panthers into the lead 55-53 and forcing Clay Count Head Coach Robert Marcum to call a timeout.

Clay County, on their next possession, missed on a three point attempt by Ryan House and Knox Central pulls down the rebound which allowed Chad Marsee to score on the block to push the score to 57-53 with 1:05 remaining.

Clay County’s Trey Farmer committed a charge to give the ball back to the Panthers with 50.2 seconds remaining but the Panthers gave the ball back with an offensive foul being called against Marsee.

The Tigers scored at the 35 second mark to cut the lead to two, 57-55.

The game at this point became a game of possessions as Clay County immediately fouled to put Jeffrey Adams on the line for one and a bonus. Adams steps up and drains both free throws for a four point advantage, 59-55, with 35 seconds left in the game.

Clay County commits a turn over as the ball floats out of bounds on their next possession and the Knox Central fans go wild sensing a victory with only 22.9 ticks left.

The Tigers are forced to foul Matthew Barger as one second leaves the clock putting Barger on the line for a one and bonus attempt while nursing a huge four point advantage.

Barger sets at the line. Takes aim. The shot rolls off and Clay gets the rebound.

The Tiger’s Trey Farmer takes a pass in front court. Dribbles along the right and takes a long three that finds its way to the bottom of the basket cutting Knox Centrals’ lead to one, 59-58, with 13.6 seconds. Clay County calls a timeout.

Knox Central enters the ball to Barger and is fouled immediately by the Tigers putting Barger back on the free throw line and a chance to push the lead back to three.

Barger steps back to the line. Takes aim for the second time within 10 seconds with a chance to ice the game. The ball goes up and rolls off the rim. Clay pulls down the rebound and rushes up court trying to beat the clock. Trey Farmer drives deep into the lane and is met by Knox Central’s Tanner Wells. Farmer pulls up as Wells leaps to attempt a block. The ball floats over the outreached hands of Wells and rattles through giving Clay County the 60-59 lead with only 1.5 seconds showing on the clock.

The Panthers inbounds to Barger for a long half court shot that falls to the floor as the final buzzer sounds.

Head Coach Jamie Voight said after the game that he would not place blame on any single play. “We missed a lot of free throws tonight but you can not just look at it like that. One offensive rebound that we gave up here or there, just one break in the game changes everything.”

Voight said he is optimistic about the future. “We have some good kids coming up. We just have to learn from this. They had problems in the past getting out of the first round and now we have that monkey off our back.”

“Here we were fighting to go play in the Region Championship game but came up one point short. That has to be the fuel to fire next year.”

Editors Note: The Panthers defeated Harlan County 69-63 in round one of the region tournament. Senior Jeffrey Adams hit a three pointer as time expired to force overtime. Tanner Wells and Matthew Barger led the Panthers with 21 and 20 points, respectively.