Their next goal: learning to consistently win the close ones.
The Redskins failed to get a shot away in the waning seconds as they fell to visiting Corbin 43-40 on Friday.
Cumberland's last three losses have come by a total margin of 10 points. Coach Jerry Edwards said the team has to change its mentality in close games.
"It's like having that big fish on the line and he gets away from you," he said. "We had them on the hook we just didn't reel them in.
"It's mental, and a lot of that comes from playing not to lose. Some of these kids are so accustomed to losing that they don't know how to play when they're ahead. That's something we've got to get across."
Corbin (14-7) trailed by two at halftime, but the Redhounds took the lead in the third quarter as freshman forward Josh Crawford woke up. Crawford, who was held scoreless in the first half, scored nine points in the period as the Hounds took a 34-30 lead.
"We usually focus on trying to stop the whole team," Edwards said. "If there is a superstar like Crawford, we'll try to double and help out, but we don't just go for one player we try to shut the whole team down."
Corbin chewed nearly a minute off the clock before Josh Hamlin drained a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, and Crawford added another basket to extend the Hounds' lead to nine with 5:43 remaining.
The Skins methodically responded as senior guard Ronnie Nolan scored a basket, sophomore Brooks Hogue hit one of two free throws and sophomore Brock Leisge drained two from the line, cutting the deficit to 39-35 with three minutes left to play.
After Ryan Tate hit a pair of free throws for the Redhounds, Nolan nailed a 3-pointer to pull the Skins within three with 52 seconds on the clock.
Hamlin knocked down two free throws for the Redhounds, but junior Kyle Simpson's basket on the other end left Cumberland trailing by two with 19 seconds to go.
Pietrowski called timeout after Cumberland trapped Hamlin on the ensuing inbound pass. The Skins caught a break when Corbin's next inbounds pass skipped out of bounds, giving Cumberland the ball with 14 seconds remaining.
The Skins failed to capitalize, however, hurrying the ball up the floor only to find no shooters open. Tate stripped the ball from Hogue beyond the 3-point line as the buzzer sounded.
"We wanted to get it in there and eat up a little clock, or at least get to the foul line," Pietrowski said. "We did at least buckle down and get a stop. We did a good job as far as not letting them get an open look. A month ago, I don't know if we would've won this game."
Edwards noted that another mental mistake led to the Skins' inability to find a shot.
"We wanted them to spread out, and they bunched together. Again, it's mental, because we had told them to spread out, but everybody came to the left side," he said.
Cumberland's patience was a virtue in the first half as the Skins maintained the lead, but Edwards acknowledged that his team might have been a little too hesitant to shoot down the stretch.
"We may have held it a little longer than we should have," he said. "We've been working on the patience part because sometimes we've come down and rushed but we may have been too patient."
Pietrowski praised the Skins' effort, particularly on defense.
"Their man-to-man defense is better than I gave them credit for," he said. "Their coach has done an excellent job. They play really good help-side, they understand position and they rebound really well. You put all those things together, and we really struggled to score."
Corbin scored the game's first points on a Ryan Swim basket, but the Hounds were held without a field goal for the next six-plus minutes as Cumberland opened a 9-2 lead.
Deke Barley nailed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to pull Corbin within four points. The freshman guard provided the majority of the Hounds' offense in the first half, scoring eight points.
"Deke kept us in it the first half. Without him, we would've been in really big trouble," Pietrowski said. "He's going to be special for us down the road, and I think we saw some moments of that tonight."
The Skins added four straight points by sophomore center Desmond Johnson to open the second period, extending their lead to 13-5.
The Hounds answered with a 7-1 run, including another trey by Barley, to knot the score at 14-14. Simpson's short jumper with 1:15 remaining gave the Skins a 16-14 halftime lead.
Cumberland's balanced scoring attack was led by Nolan with nine points. Johnson added eight, along with 14 rebounds, and Leisge scored seven.
Crawford led the Hounds with 11 points and six rebounds.
Cumberland (7-11) now faces a stretch of three critical district games. The Skins will travel to Harlan on Tuesday before playing host to Evarts in a doubleheader Friday and to Bell County on Feb. 14.
Cumberland is still in contention for the No. 3 seed in the upcoming district tournament.
"Those games could mean a lot, as far as seeding goes," Edwards said. "The Harlan game is really important. We'll have to take each one of those one at a time and come prepared to play."
The Redhounds will travel to Jackson County on Tuesday.
Deke Barley scored 15 points and Lee Crawford added 11 as Corbin rolled to a 53-21 victory in the junior varsity game.
Cumberland (2-11) was led by Tyler Baker with five points. Lance Simmons, Thomas Boggs and Thomas Halcomb each scored four, and Paul David Creech and Antonio Phillips added two apiece.
Josh Hamlin 2-3 2-2 7, Ryan Tate 2-8 2-2 7, Kyle French 0-1 0-0 0, Josh Crawford 5-10 1-3 11, Ryan Swim 1-4 2-6 4, Clint Cashen 1-4 0-0 2, Deke Barley 3-5 2-3 10, Josh Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Devin Rogers 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 15-37 9-16 43.
Brock Leisge 2-5 2-3 7, Kyle Simpson 3-6 0-0 6, Ronnie Nolan 3-12 1-3 9, David Maggard 1-1 0-0 2, Desmond Johnson 2-8 4-6 8, Brooks Hogue 0-1 1-2 1, Matt Sturgill 0-1 3-4 3, Chase Grogan 2-2 0-0 4, Darris McCombs 0-0 0-0 0, Drew Chamberlain 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-36 11-18 40.
Corbin 5 9 20 9 43
Cumberland 9 7 14 10 40
3-point goals: Corbin 4-10 (Barley 2-3, Hamlin 1-1, Tate 1-4, Cashen 0-2), Cumberland 3-8 (Nolan 2-6, Leisge 1-2). Rebounds: Corbin 22 (Crawford 6), Cumberland 29 (Johnson 14). Assists: Corbin 5 (Tate 2), Cumberland 5 (Leisge, Johnson 2). Turnovers: Corbin 19, Cumberland 20. Fouled out: None.