By John Stepp for The Times Tribune
CORBIN — It was a tournament-like atmosphere in the Corbin High School gymnasium as the Redhounds took on the Clay County Tigers in a matchup between two of the top teams in the 13th Region. The Tigers prevailed in the slugfest, 72-66, improving their record to 3-0 on the season.
Despite the loss, Corbin coach Tony Pietrowski noted that this was the type of game everyone wants to play in.
“What a great atmosphere tonight. I thought this game had a postseason feel to it,” said Pietrowski. “This was a good game. Clay County is a strong, physical team like always. I think it ended up being a six-point game, but it was a much closer game than that.”
Clay County jumped out to a 20-14 lead after the first quarter and looked to be in control early, as they took a nine-point advantage with just under two minutes remaining in the first half. Corbin refused to settle and scored seven straight points, cutting the Tiger lead to 40-38 at the half.
The game was nip-and-tuck for the third quarter as things heated up. A basket by Redhound center Robbie Igo tied the game at 48, midway through the third quarter. After a free throw by Clay County's Tyler McDaniel put the Tigers back on top, Corbin’s Hunter Grubb scored off of a turnover to give the Redhounds their last lead of the night at 51-50. The Tigers answered and finished the quarter with a 53-52 lead.
Igo powered Corbin with seven points in the quarter, after sitting out much of the first half in foul trouble. Igo finished with a team-high 14 points on the night.
“(Robbie) did a good job for us tonight. When he came out, I thought Taylor Waddle and Joey Shelton did a good job for us," said Pietrowski. “We got to have (Igo's) size, but we also have to develop the other players — Taylor, Joey and (Zach) Henson.”
Clay County scored quickly to open the fourth quarter and extend their lead to three, before Corbin’s Caleb Maguet sank a three-point shot to tie the game at 55 apiece. That would be the last time the Redhounds would come close to a lead, as the Tigers outscored Corbin 14-6 over the next four minutes of the game. The Tigers sank their free throws to keep the Redhounds rally at bay, winning 72-66.
All five Clay County starters in double figures, with McDaniel leading all scorers with 19.
Despite the scrappy performance, the Redhounds struggled to compete with Clay County on the offensive and defensive boards, as the Tigers scored on several offensive rebounds.
“We’ve got to rebound the basketball. I really felt like in the end, that was our downfall,” said Pietrowski. “That’s something we talked about coming into the game. We are undersized, but that doesn’t mean we can’t block out. This team will get better at it. But we hung tough. There were some times we could have hung our heads, but we kept fighting.”
The Redhounds return to action on Thursday when they host the Lynn Camp Wildcats. Clay County will host Louisville Holy Cross on Saturday.
Clay County 72, Corbin 66
Corbin 14 24 15 13 66
Clay Co. 20 20 12 20 72
Corbin (66) - Igo 14, Maguet 12, Zach Farley 11, Trevor Hill 11, Hunter Grubb 9, Taylor Goins 3, Waddle 2, Henson 2, Shelton 2.
Clay County (72) - McDaniel 19, Kody Reed 13, Stephen Lytle 13, Marty Bowling 12, Jarrod Rice 11, Travis Smith 4.