Panthers down Clay, 81-77, continue undefeated month of Feb.

The Knox Central Panther boy’s basketball team seems to have turned the corner during the month of February. The Panthers only posted a 12-11 record coming into this month but has rolled off four straight wins and have positioned themselves to be the team to beat in the 13th Region.

“We’ve told them February has got to be your month,” said Coach Jamie Voight after a hard fought 81-77 victory over Clay County on Feb. 10. “We are maturing. We are getting better. If this game was played 3-4 weeks ago, we lose the game,” Voight added.

Knox Central has defeated three 13th Region teams during this winning streak in Whitley County, Clay County, Jackson County and one non-region opponent Leslie County.

Knox Central’s Matthew Barger kept pace with Clay County scoring nine of the Panthers first quarter 17 points to knot the game at 17-all at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Panther Nate Cole opened up with a three to push Knox Central out to a 20-17 lead. After a quick three by Clay County, Jeffrey Adams hit a three of his own at the 6:42 mark for a 23-21 advantage. Clay struggled to score, allowing Knox Central to jump out to an 11 point lead 38-27 at the half. Barger led the way with 14 first half points followed by eight from Chad Marsee and six from Tanner Wells.

Clay County found the scoring column first in the second half but Central reeled off six unanswered behind scoring from Wells, Barger and Delonie Graham to push the advantage to 13 with 5:44 showing in the third quarter.

The Tigers fought back scoring the next six points before Chad Marsee stopped the run with a basket in the lane with 3:38 remaining.

Clay mounted another run and took their first lead since 14-12 in the first quarter with a 47-46 advantage with 2:18 showing on the clock in the third quarter.

Knox Central’s Chad Marsee stepped his game up scoring the next seven points and giving the Panthers a five point lead at the end of the third quarter, 55-50.

Jeffrey Adams opened the fourth quarter with a three to extend the advantage to eight. The Tigers’ Trey Farmer dropped in a bucket on the block to keep pace with the Panthers at 58-52. On the next play, Nate Cole drove deep down into lane and dished to Chad Marsee putting Knox Central back up eight points and forcing Clay County Head Coach Robert Marcum to call a time out at the 7:11 mark in the fourth.

The Panthers allowed the Tigers to claw back to within three points at 65-62 at the 4:13 mark but held on to claim the victory 81-77.

Knox Central will begin 51st District play on Tuesday, Feb. 24 when they face the Lynn Camp Wildcats at Pineville High School at 7 pm. The winner of the Central-Lynn Camp game will take on the winner of Barbourville-Pineville match-up on Friday, Feb. 27 at 7 pm for the Championship.