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Cougars find themselves in familiar role as underdogs

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By Dwane Wilder

Campbell County High School’s boys will find themselves in familiar territory when the District 3-AAA Basketball Tournament tips off this week.

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The Cougars, who were seeded fifth a year ago before upsetting Knoxville teams West and Central en route to the championship game, are seeded sixth this season. Campbell County opens tournament play at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Fri.) night against archrival Anderson County in one of two games scheduled at Clinton High School. The remainder of the tournament will be held next week at Knox Halls.

“I don’t like finishing (the regular season) sixth, but we’re really better off because (No. 1) Central and (No. 4) Oak Ridge are both in the other bracket,” said Campbell County coach Barry Jones.

“It’s a much easier path (to the championship game) in our bracket than in the other. Oak Ridge beat Powell by almost 40 points last week.”

Campbell County (6-10 district, 11-15 overall) finished regular season play Friday night with a 76-51 win over visiting Scott County. Senior forward Sean Chapman had a big game with a team leading 33 points, 10 rebounds, six blocked shots and three steals. Freshman guard Cory Poteet chipped in 11 points for the Cougars, followed by Ethan Simpson with eight, Cody Malicoat and Chad Wagers seven each, Nick Litton six and Gunner St. John four.

Ethan, who led Campbell County with 10 assists, nearly had a double-double.

Malicoat would’ve been productive had he not been hurt during the first half. The 6-foot-4 sophomore forward aggravated an old ankle injury early in the second quarter. At the time, the Cougars trailed 33-30 and had not been able to stop Scott County’s penetration. The Highlanders scored 23 points in the first quarter alone.

Campbell County’s outside shooters soon found their range, however, and a zone defense the Cougars had employed from the opening tip began to take its toll on the Highlanders.

“Ethan and Cory hit a couple of 3-pointers that were big shots,” said Jones.

“And we were able to keep our bigs underneath the basket when they were looking to drive the ball and get in close. We came out in the third quarter and just put the wood to them.”

Jacob Sexton scored 12 of his team high 17 points in the first half for Scott County.

The previous two outings for the Cougars were not so good. Campbell County suffered a 92-62 loss at home Thursday night to district regular season champion Knoxville Central. Malicoat had 16 points, followed by Sean Chapman with 15, Litton 10, Tyler Chapman and Simpson six each, Wagers five, St. John three and Matt Bolton one. Marcus Stanford led all scorers with 22 points for the Bobcats (16-0 district, 22-4 overall), who lit up the scoreboard with 10 treys.

Last Tuesday night, the Cougars lost a 57-55 district heartbreaker at Karns after being outscored 15-7 during the fourth quarter.

Malicoat led all scorers with 22 points, followed by Sean Chapman with 19, Poteet five, Simpson four, Tyler Chapman three and Litton two. Kyle Boden paced a balanced attack for the Beavers with 17 points, while Aaron Fritts had 13 and Brandon Roth 10.