by Andrew Hatton
CVT Sports Writer
The Estill County Boys basketball team competed in the Cumberland Falls Invitational Tournament last week in Corbin. The Engineers defeated Barbourville in overtime, 55-52, before falling to Corbin and Freedom, a school out of Orlando, Fla.
The event took place just two days after the holiday weekend and featured teams from all throughout Southeastern and Central Kentucky. There were also two teams from out of state featured in the tournament: Daniel Clinton, S.C. and the aforementioned Freedom High School of Orlando, Fla.
In the first game of the tournament, Estill would take on a Barbourville team that entered the Cumberland Falls Invitational on a four-game win streak. The Engineers came into the game with a three-game win streak of their own.
The Engineers would come out on top, fueled by a solid game from their leading scorer, Caleb Bonny, who finished with 28 points. Big plays down the stretch from Kevin Richardson and Joe Benton proved to be the difference with Estill winning, 55-52 in overtime.
Estill’s front court foursome of Luke Barnett, Robert Tipton, Andrew and Lane Doty combined for only 13 points in the game. But while the group failed to make a great impact on the offensive end, they were effective rim protectors all game long.
The inconsistent play from the frontcourt has left Coach Bentley in staff with more questions than answers at this point in the season. A group that can appear dominant through stretches of games has moments where they fail to make a significant impact.
If the Engineers are to reach their full potential this season, they will need big time performances from their big men, night in and night out.
After winning four straight for the second time this season, the Engineers were matched up against the hosts of the tournament, the Corbin Red Hounds. Corbin entered the game with an outstanding record of 7-1.
Three Engineer players would combine for 53 of Estill’s 62 points on the night. Bonny would lead with 24, Andrew Doty finished with 17 and Kevin Richardson would add 12 of his own.
Despite these strong performances from the boys in blue, the Red Hounds proved to be too much. Perhaps it was the comfort of their home gym, but Corbin shot the ball lights out for much of the game. The Red Hounds would have three players combine for 64 points. Corbin would win, 87-62.
In Estill’s third and final game of the tournament, they would face off against an unfamiliar opponent: Freedom High School out of Orlando, Fla.
Estill would once again be sparked by three double-digit scoring performances. Bonny led with 31, while Joe Benton and Andrew Doty added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
But Freedom would apply full court pressure to the Engineers, creating problems for Estill and causing them to fall behind early. Despite the pressure, Estill kept their opponents within reach, never trailing by more than 10.
The Engineers would make a late charge and draw to within three points of Freedom, but ultimately fell by the score of 71-67.
Caleb Bonny was named to the All-Tournament team after leading Estill in scoring for all three of their games. Bonny would score 83 total points in throughout the tournament.
Tournament hosts, Corbin, would defeat Knox County Central in the title game, 76-71, to win the Cumberland Falls Invitational.
Estill travels to Jackson County this Saturday looking to grab their tenth victory of the season. The Engineers return home on Jan. 10, to host Garrard County. Tip-off against the Golden Lions is set for 7:30 p.m.