VANCEBURG - Points were at a premium Monday night in Vanceburg.
After three quarters of play, neither Bracken County or Lewis County were able to crack the double-digit mark in points for a quarter. The Lions took a 27-23 lead into the fourth and exploded for 23 fourth quarter points on their way to a 50-33 victory over the Polar Bears.
"Give them credit, we were just struggling to score tonight. Their defense was really good," Lions coach Joe Hampton said. "We had some plays where we got the ball where we wanted, we just didn't make the shot. They had some big men that were hard to score over and made it difficult finishing."
Free throws and turnovers were the big indicator in the victory. The lions went 19-of-24 from the charity stripe in the the contest compared to the Polar Bears 5-of-10 effort. The Lions committed just 10 turnovers to the Polar Bears 19 as the two teams are headed in different directions...the Lions (6-3) winners of three straight, the Polar Bears (1-7) losers of five in a row.
"That's too many turnovers. That many to just four assists isn't going to cut it," Polar Bears coach Jason Hinson said. "I thought our zone defense was really good, but the bottom line is we just have to be able to score. If we had a couple scorers to put the ball in the basket, our defense was good enough, we're just struggling to score right now."
Bracken's zone defense was causing troubles early as the Lions struggled to find the outside stroke. The Polar Bears led throughout the quarter until a Seth Wright jumper followed by a Bryce Wallingford free throw gave the Lions a 9-7 lead after the first.
After Travis Tucker converted on a nice set play by Bracken to tie things up at 11-all, the Lions answered with a 6-0 run before Tanner Fisher knocked down a triple to make it 17-14 Lewis County at halftime.
The two would continue to play tight in the third, The Lions building back up to a six-point lead before Tad Fisher got the Polar Bears within four at 27-23 to end the third.
A 16-5 run to open up the fourth created the Lions separation as Bracken was saddled with foul trouble as Tad Fisher, Mason Tucker and Travis Tucker accumulated four fouls apiece.
"Anytime Tad is not on the floor it hurts us. I thought he played really well defensively and offensively. We were pleased tonight, we're trying to be very positive right now and build on every game. Our big thing is we want to take a step forward and not two steps back. I think as long as your in the game and have a chance, and we were tonight for almost four quarters," Hinson said.
The Polar Bears would get no closer from there as some outside shots started to fall for the Lions from Wright and Tanner Willis banking home a three to create the separation.
"When you play against a zone that good you have to knock down some outside shots and we really didn't until that fourth quarter. It even took a bank three to get us going a little bit. That really put us over the hump actually," Hampton said.
Wright led the Lions with 12 points despite not starting. Sam O'Keefe followed with 10 points while Wallingford added eight and Tay Offut tallied six points and 10 rebounds.
"We'll continue to work on shooting it better, just have to get more consistent in being able to free everybody else up and open it up a little bit by hitting that outside shot better," Hampton said.
The Lions return to action Thursday when they head to Bellevue for the Swauger Holiday Classic. They'll open up the Classic against Ludlow at 1 p.m.
The Polar Bears will have to shake this one off quickly as Paris comes to Brooksville Tuesday night.
Bracken was led by Tad Fisher's seven points followed by Tanner Fisher's six. Logan Teegarden provided some punch off the bench with five points.
"We're trying to find somebody off the bench. We know Logan can score, he came in and did a nice job tonight. It's just day-to-day on finding someone," Hinson said.