Panther coach Joe Wolfenbarger went to his bench early and it paid big dividends as Brandon Myers came off the pine to score eight first-quarter points. Blake Franklin and Blake Arnold both hit 3s after entering the game as Cumberland Gap took control.
Middlesboro was held to just a Derek Smith basket and a free throw from Timmy Helton in the opening period.
Helton scored seven of his 16 points in the second quarter as the Jackets tried to fight their way back into the game. Senior forward Cameron Rancher added three points and Zack Riddle and Jerrell Stephney also had baskets in the period as Middlesboro cut the deficit to 31-17 by halftime.
Riddle scored seven more points in the third quarter and also finished with 16 for MHS.
But it was the Panthers’ night. Logan Gilbert scored five third quarter points while Trae Minton, Ben Arnold and John Douglas added four each as Cumberland Gap pushed their lead to 20. It was 51-31 going into the fourth quarter.
Both teams emptied their bench late as the Panthers went on to win by 27.
It was a balanced scoring effort for Cumberland Gap as nine different players scored at least five points. Douglas led the way with 12 while Gilbert joined him in double figures with ten. Myers finished with nine, Ben Arnold and Franklin eight each, Blake Arnold seven, Minton and Nathan Hatmaker six apiece and Daven Ellison five.
Cumberland Gap (7-5) hosts South Greene in the second game of a girls/boys district double-header on Thursday. Middlesboro (3-11) plays at Pineville Friday night.
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Cumb. Gap 22 9 20 20 — 71
Middlesboro 3 14 14 13 — 44
CUMBERLAND GAP (71): John Douglas 12, Logan Gilbert 10, Brandon Myers 9, Ben Arnold 8, Blake Franklin 8, Blake Arnold 7, Trae Minton 6, Nathan Hatmaker 6, Daven Ellison 5, Jon Slaven 0, Caldwell 0, Daniels 0, Graves 0.
MIDDLESBORO (44): Timmy Helton 16, Zack Riddle 16, Cameron Rancher 3, Patrick Knuckles 3, Derek Smith 2, Jerrell Stephney 2, Josh Hunley 2, Michael Wilson 0, Logan Miracle 0, Blake Davis 0, Boone Bowling 0.
Read more: The Middlesboro Daily News - Panthers rout Jackets 71 44