By Chris Parsons/Staff Writer
It wasn’t a pretty win, but after an edge-of-your-seat finish, Knox Central Lady Panthers’ head coach Darrin Mills will take it.
His team came away with a 38-36 win Monday after Jenna Mills, who also led the way with 27 points in the game, knocked down a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds to play in the contest.
“Believe it or not, we weren’t trying at any time in the second half,” Mills said. “We just weren’t playing the kind of basketball that we wanted to play.
“But we played hard and so did Middlesboro,” he added. “It was a hard fought game all the way down to the end and we were fortunate enough to be on the winning end of it.”
The Lady Panthers were in control most of the way, including a 12-point lead at halftime. But foul trouble and poor second-half shooting allowed Middlesboro to hand around and eventually tie the score at 36 apiece as time wound down.
Neither team was able to get things going offensively, managing just eight field goals combined in the second half.
Knox Central jumped ahead 10-0 in the first quarter before the Lady Jackets closed out the period on a 7-5 run to make the score 15-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Panthers picked up the pace in the second quarter as Mills tallied eight of her 27 points, staking her team to a 24-12 lead at halftime.
Middlesboro turned the tables in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Panthers 9-5 in the period to trim the lead to eight points with just eight minutes to play in the game.
Despite connecting on just one field goal attempt in the final eight minutes, Knox Central found itself with a chance to take the lead back with just over two seconds to play in the game as Mills headed to the free throw line. She came through on both attempts to put her team on top 38-36 and a last second shot by Middlesboro was off the mark to end things.
As for the last few seconds of the game, Mills said he didn’t necessarily give his kids any magical words of wisdom as far as the last play.
“I told Jenna to hit the free throws first and foremost,” Mills said. “I told the kids no matter what do not foul, because that’s all we needed to do is foul them on some kind of crazy 3-point attempt and put them at the line to win it.
“We did a good job down the stretch I think,” Mills said. “We didn’t really do anything great, but we were able to grind it out and get the win and this early in the season, that’s really all you can ask your kids to do.”
Knox Central 38, Middlesboro 36
Middlesboro 7 5 9 15 36
Knox Central 15 9 5 9 38
Middlesboro (36) – Padgett 10, Green 8, B. Hensley 6, Moyers 5, K. Hensley 4, Prater 3.
Knox Central (38) – Mills 27, Carnes 6, Shippy 3, McNeil 2.