Campbell County High School’s boys qualified for their first regional tournament in three years by advancing to the semifinals of last week’s District 3-AAA Basketball Tournament at Oak Ridge.
After beating Clinton on opening night, the Cougars (18-12 overall) punched their ticket to the regionals with a 64-55 victory Thursday night over Knox Halls.
The win avenged a pair of regular season losses by Campbell County to the Red Devils.
Corey Poteet led the Cougars with 17 points, followed by Nick Litton with 15, Ethan Simpson 14, Tyler Chapman eight, Trey Torres seven, Tuffy Shoupe two and Chase Lindsay one.
“Our guys just wanted it more,” Campbell County coach Matt Housley said.
“It’s all about these kids and how much they love this game and this school.
“Nick and Tyler played like men out there. Tuffy and Gunner (St. John) gave us good minutes, and Trey, Corey and Ethan handled the ball well.
“I’m happy for Ethan for him to have a good night, numbers wise. He’s played really well lately, but it’s not been showing up in the stat column. So I was happy to see him play well in every facet of the game.
“I couldn’t be more excited or happy to be the team that ended Halls’ season, either. It really has turned out to be (our) second best rivalry just because of their student section and ours.
“Our fans got us through the Halls game. We have the most unbelievable crowd and fans in the state. When you look at it, our game was basically a home game because of our fans.”
And those fans enjoyed every moment of a game in which Campbell County rolled up an 11-point first half lead. Guards Simpson, Torres and Poteet showed great confidence driving in from the wings for easy layups or dishing off to Litton and Chapman underneath the basket.
The Red Devils closed to within three early in the third quarter, but the Cougars made another strong run to get their lead back to double digits in the fourth.
Torres fouled out with 1:25 left, which left Campbell County without its primary ball handler. But the Cougars managed to survive with 15 of 22 shooting from the free throw line during the fourth quarter.
Stetson Moore led all scorers with 28 points for Halls. Connor Froning and Matt Miller chipped in eight and six points, respectively.
Two nights later, the Cougars dropped into the consolation bracket after a 69-46 semifinal loss to state ranked Karns.
Shoupe carried Campbell County with 12 points, followed by Litton with 10, Simpson seven, Poteet six, Chapman and Darin Gillenwater four each, and Torres three. Litton also had 12 rebounds and five assists.
The Beavers broke away from a 9-9 first quarter tie to take a 27-14 lead going to the second quarter. During the period when Karns made its big run, the Cougars had three freshmen on the floor. The Beavers held a 38-27 advantage at halftime.
During the third quarter, the Cougars got within six, but the Beavers made a run to extend their lead to 17.
Sophomore forward Devin Sibley led all scorers with 21 points, including six 3-pointers, for Karns.