Jackets defeat Claiborne, 58-40
For the first time in three season, Middleboro finds itself on a three-game winning streak. The accomplishment came at the expense of Claiborne, Tennessee. What looked like a shootout in the first quarter ended with the Yellow Jackets pulling away to a 58-40 victory over the Bulldogs.
The two teams went shot for shot in the first quarter to build a 17-17 tie. Claiborne cooled down after that while Middlesboro maintained its stride en route to the victory.
“I thought we had good energy tonight. First quarter (Claiborne) was hitting some shots, and we probably weren’t defending that good,” said Middlesboro coach Lewis Morris. “Offensively, we were cutting and moving the ball and getting good shots.
“We just kept at it and switched defenses a couple of times and got them out of rhythm. I thought they did a pretty good job of taking care of the ball for the most part, and running their offense when they had to.”
It was a decent all-around effort by the Jackets throughout the game. Guards Jabari Kyle and Drake Thomas led the team offensively. Kyle finished with a team-best 17 points while shooting at a 66.7 percent clip. He also racked up a team-high six rebounds.
Thomas shot 66.7 percent from the field on his way to 16 points. Mykel Griffin chipped in 12 points off the bench to go with a pair of rebounds. The big man also hit two 3-pointers during the game.
“For the most part, they took good shots,” said Morris about Kyle and Thomas. “They didn’t force a whole lot (of shots). When you take good shots and you’re consistent you’re going to be OK. If you’ll be fundamental and be ready to shoot and be aggressive, good things will happen.
“I thought TJ (Patterson) played well. He plays with a lot of energy and gives us a lot of stuff that people don’t recognize — rebounding, guarding, being physical. It was a good team win tonight.”
Kade Beeler paced Claiborne with a team-high 13 points. Hunter Rosenbalm added eight points to the final tally, while Jacob Williams and Lucas Manning scored six points apiece.
The Bulldogs matched Middlesboro shot for shot in the first. There were three ties during the quarter with a Beeler 3-pointer at the buzzer tying the game at 17-17 at the end of one.
Blaine Caylor opened the second with a 3-pointer to give Claiborne its first lead of the game, 20-17. A pair of free throws from Andrew Padgett and Thomas returned the lead to Middlesboro, 21-20, with 6:12 remaining in the half.
A free throw from Williams tied the game temporarily before a Kyle 3-pointer sparked a 10-run. During the stint, the sophomore point guard tallied eight points including a 3-pointer that capped the run and increased the Jacket lead to 31-21.
A floater by Beeler stopped the bleeding and decreased the deficit to 31-23 with just over a minute remaining in the second. A free throw from Steven Poore was quickly followed up by a Patterson basket that increased the Middlesboro lead to 34-23.
The Bulldogs finished the half with a basket that narrowed the deficit to single digits, 34-25.
Middlesboro pulled ahead by double digits early in the third quarter on a Patterson layup that gave the Jackets a 38-27 lead. Middlesboro never led by less than 11 points from that point forward earning an 18-point victory.
Middlesboro (3-3) will host Jenkins (0-7) at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.
Middlesboro 58, Claiborne 40
Jabari Kyle 6 3-4 17, Christian Hubbard 0 1-2 1, Drake Thomas 6 2-3 16, TJ Patterson 2 0-1 4, Andrew Padgett 1 3-4 5, Mykel Griffin 5 0-1 12, Steven Poore 0 1-2 1, Taylor McClelland 0 2-2 2. Totals: 20 12-19 58.
Elijah Beason 0 0-0 0, Kade Beeler 5 2-2 13, Jacob Williams 0 6-8 6, Houston Hatfield 0 0-0 0, Evan Ickes 0 0-2 0, Lucas Manning 2 0-0 6, Blaine Caylor 1 0-0 3, Hunter Rosenbalm 2 4-4 8, Daniel Atkins 1 0-0 2,Christian Whiteaker 1 0-0 2. Totals: 12 12-14 40.
Middlesboro 17 17 13 11 — 58
Claiborne 17 8 8 7 — 40
3-point goals: Middlesboro 6 (Kyle 2, Thomas 2, Griffin 2), Claiborne 4 (Manning 2, Caylor 1, Beeler 1).
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN