|Strong finishes carry Tribe to wins
By Dan Manley
Advocate Sports Editor
Despite some earlier signs of success, Coach Steve Wright may well look back on games No. 13 and 14 of the 2019-2020 season as the ones where the Montgomery County Indians began to zero in on the type of team they could become.
Friday night at the MCHS Arena in a 68-56 win over Paintsville and then Saturday afternoon at South Laurel in an 82-74 victory over Bell County, the pieces seemed to start coming together for the Tribe.
The Indians had to overcome great efforts by a pair of outstanding sophomores, Colby Fugate of Paintsville and Cameron Burnett of Bell County, to post the back-to-back wins.
Those two victories left the Indians with a 9-5 worksheet going into Tuesday night’s 40th District regular season battle with Bourbon County at Paris.
Later this week the Indians will host Louisville Eastern Friday night and then travel to Clay County Saturday to meet Harlan County in the Bobby Keith Classic.
Here are last week’s results:
Bell County 74
The Indians had to grind out a win Saturday at South Laurel over the Bobcats in the Raymond Reed Classic.
The final score seemed like a complete contradiction to the spirited defensive efforts displayed by the two teams, although those efforts did result in the two teams combining to shoot 60 free throws in the game, accounting for 43 of the 156 points that were scored.
The contest went back and forth much of the way. The Indians raced out to a 10-2 lead and then trailed 13-12 at the end of the opening quarter.
By the time the Bobcats completed a 12-0 run early in the second period they led 17-12.
With four minutes to play in the first half Bell County still had a 25-24 lead and then a 14-4 finish to the half pushed the Tribe back into a 38-29 halftime advantage.
Hagan Harrison, who finished with a game-high 27 points, scored 15 in the second quarter to help the Tribe achieve the comfortable half-time advantage.
Early in the second half the Indians went on a 13-3 run to stretch a 40-34 lead out to 53-37.
Bell County refused to go away and battled back to within 64-59 with six minutes to play. The Indians would go on to hit 12 of 18 free throws in the final quarter as the Bobcats fouled to try and shorten the game. Brandon Dyer also hit two of his four three-pointers in the final period to help the Indians hang on to the lead.
“This was a really good win for us,” Wright said. “Bell County was playing football into December and a couple of their key players weren’t with them early. Their record really doesn’t indicate how good they are.
“Even with Rickey (Lovette) getting bumped around pretty good, getting a little frustrated and fouling out we were still able to get a win.”
The Indians used three post position players in the game in Zach Benton, Lovette and Trey Ishmael and those three combined to hit eight of 12 from the field, 13 of 19 from the foul line with a combined 25 rebounds.
Sophomore Cameron Brunett finished with 25 points and nine rebounds to lead the Bobcats. He entered the game as their leading scorer.
The Indians improved to 9-5 while Bell County dropped to 5-7.
MCHS (82) — Hagan Harrison 9-18 6-8 27, Austin Eichenberger 2-9 2-2 8, Zach Benton 5-6 5-6 15, Rickey Lovette 2-4 3-4 7, Brandon Dyer 5-11 0-0 14, J.T. Woosley 2-3 0-0 4, Trey Ishmael 1-2 5-9 7, Trey Carroll 0-1 0-0 0, Caleb Webb 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 21-29 82.
Bell County (74) — Cameron Burnett 9-16 6-7 25, London Stephany 5-13 5-8 15, Andrew Caldwell 2-7 3-6 7, Dawson Woolum 4-14 6-8 16, Dalton Stepp 2-3 0-0 6, Jon Wilson 0-0 2-2 2, Carter McCune 1-2 0-0 3, Brandon Baker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-55 22-31 74.
MCHS 12 26 22 22—82
Bell 13 16 20 25—74
Three-point field goals —MCHS 9-24 (Harrison 3-9, Eichenberger 2-4, Dyer 4-8); Bell 6-19 (Burnett 1-2, Woolum 2-7, Stepp 2-3, McCune 1-2). Rebounds — MCHS 40 (Benton 12, Lovette 8, Ishmael 6); Bell 36 (Burnett 9, Stephany 5). Turnovers — MCHS 11, Bell County 12. Total fouls — MCHS 20, Bell County 22. Fouled out — Lovette.
MCHS 68, P’ville 56
The Indians never trailed after taking a 30-29 lead early in the second half but the contest was close until the four minutes when Montgomery County finally gained the upper hand over the visiting Tigers at the MCHS Arena Friday night.
Just as they were Saturday against Bell County, the Indians were facing a team that had only been together as an entire unit for about three weeks after they made a run to the state football finals.
Thus the 3-6 record didn’t seem to be indicative of the way the Tigers played as they led 27-26 at the half behind a 17-point effort from sophomore Colby Fugate, who finished with a game-high 26 points.
MCHS guards Hagan Harrison, Austin Eichenberger and Brandon Dyer combined for 31 points in the second half and 22 in the final period as the Tribe pulled away from the Tigers.
Harrison finished with a team-high 20, with eight of those coming in the opening period. Eichenberger had 19, including nine in the final period when he sank a three and went six of six from the foul line.
Dyer scored all 10 of his points in the second half when he hit a pair of three-pointers.
“I thought we played well tonight but I think we’ll play much better tomorrow,” said Coach Steve Wright. “I see some things beginning to round into shape for us that makes me really optimistic for this team.”
Paintsville (56) — Colby Fugate 10-19 2-2 26, Nick Keeton 7-10 3-4 17, Braxton Tharp 3-11 0-0 6, Ryan Gibson 0-3 1-2 1, Baron Ratliff 0-1 0-0 0, Rex Castle 0-0 202 2, Connor Fugate 1-3 0-0 3, Jonah Porter 0-4 0-0 0, Ethan Hensley 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 21-53 9-12 56.
MCHS (68) — Hagan Harrison 7-15 4-6 20, Austin Eichenberger 5-13 8-9 19, Zach Benton 2-4 0-0 4, Rickey Lovette 5-8 1-1 11, J.T. Woosley 1-2 0-0 2, Brandon Dyer 3-6 2-4 10, Trey Ishmael 0-1 0-0 0, Trey Carroll 0-0 2-2 2, Preston Adams 0-0 0-0 0, Caleb Webb 0-0 0-0 0, Lo