FOUNTAIN CITY—Campbell County took on Central High School sans head coach Matt Housley on Tuesday night.
Housley, along with his wife Jessica, welcomed Sadie Grace, their first child, into the world weighing 8 lbs., 12 oz. He missed the game for the occassion.
For interim head coach Josh James, it was a lot of fun to take the reins just at his alma mater.
“It’s amazing,” James said with a smile. “It really is. I told the kids before the game, ‘Man, I have enjoyed this like no other.’ Walking around school, just strutting. It’s Matt’s job, and he does a tremendous job with it. Congratulations to him and Jessica. Sadie, he sent me a picture of her. Congratulations to them. The kids played their hearts out.”
However, turnovers and missed free throws down the stretch slowed Campbell County, as the team dropped its fourth game in a row with losses to Fulton, Ooltewah and Seymour during tournaments.
The Cougars lost the District 3-AAA matchup on Tuesday night, 58-51.
After leading 27-21 at the half, a third quarter surge by the Bobcats couldn’t be slowed.
The team went on a 13-0 run over 6:21 span. Campbell County turned the ball over six times, which Central quickly turned into nine points to go to the fourth quarter trailing 39-38.
“It was nothing different,” James said. “They come out and they pressed us from the word go. We handled the pressure well. What I stressed to our guys was that when they press us, we’re gonna push the ball. We want to push the ball. We want to get in transition with the ball in the middle of the floor, but if the numbers aren’t there, let’s just pull it back out and run our offense. I think we just get way too antsy and push the ball and push the situation.”
On the night, Campbell County allowed 19 turnovers, which went to 14 Bobcat points.
“That was huge,” junior Darrin Gillenwater said. “Josh said we played outstanding defense, and I think we did. Turnovers are what killed us. We’ve got to protect the ball. It’s just knowing what to do, when to do it and how to do it.”
Free throws also turned into a factor late in the game, as the Cougars hit 44 percent from the charity stripe.
The team knocked only 11-of-25 shots down, going 5-of-12 during the second half.
“We struggled shooting from the three and the free-throw line,” Gillenwater said. “We’ve got to work on our free throws more than anything. It’s like Josh said, ‘Free throws win ball games.’ I think we missed six in a row or something. That’s terrible. We’ve got to work on free throws, and we’ve got to get the ball to the hole and finish strong.”
Central (3-3, 2-1 District 3-AAA) converted during the game, hitting 13-of-18 at the charity stripe.
The team hit 86 percent in the fourth quarter, knocking down 6-of-7 free throws down the stretch.
According to James, though, it wasn’t just free throws that slowed Campbell County (3-5, 0-2).
“We talked about it last night, and we’ve talked about it all year,” he said of free throws. “We’re shooting under 50 percent on the year. When you leave 14 points out on the floor, and you lose by seven, that hurts you, but I don’t think that hurts us as much as not being able to convert from two and four feet out from the goal. It’s amazing how many little bunnies that we’ve missed. Hopefully, we can get that corrected. It doesn’t matter how many times you practice free throws. It’s just stepping up there with confidence.”
Gillenwater led all scorers with 20 points. Torres added 14 points, 12 of which came during the first half. Tucker Cain and Roston Letner each added five, as Nick Bailey added four points and Dakota Dossett, five.
“For a team like this, I think we need to come out and just 100 percent focus on fundamentals,” James said. “Our will has to be stronger than the other team’s. If we can come out and focus on those things, then I think we’ll be successful against Gibbs on Friday night.”
Freshman Trey Mitchell led Central with 17 points, mostly coming in the paint.
Senior Tyler Cate added 10 points of his own.
The Lady Cougars (2-4, 1-1 District 3-AAA) won their second game in a row with a 56-36 win over the Lady Bobcats.
“It feels real good,” Browning said. “Central hit some shots. We saw they weren’t a great shooting team, but they hit some shots and made us get up tempo. I think we did a great job of getting the ball inside. We scored in the paint, I would think close to over 30 points. Anytime you can do that, that’s a good sign. The threes, we hit a couple, but we struggled from the outside. We hit some pull-up jumpers, which was good to see, because we’ve been struggling on any kind of jump shot. That’s encouraging.”
All 10 players contributed to the scoring, as Hannah Owens and Amber Guy each contributed six rebounds. Owens had 12 points, as Guy bucketed eight. Kendra King and Jamie Mynatt each finished the game with seven points, as Megan Caudill added six, Brooke Bane five, Chelsea Finkenbine and Olivia Brown four, Michaela Smith two and Whitney Sawyer with one.