Harlan County reversed a troubling recent trend, while the Harlan Green Dragons were again unable to overcome a lingering obstacle in Tuesday’s 52nd District clash.The Black Bears snapped a six game losing skid with a 59-49 victory over the visiting Green Dragons.
“It feels good to get a win,” said Harlan County coach Mike Jones. “When they get to practice tomorrow, we should have a little more pep.”
After reeling off seven straight wins, Tuesday’s trip to Harlan County appeared to be the best opportunity yet for Harlan to snap a 12-game losing skid to the Black Bears. Those hopes were diminished in the first half. Harlan County put together a dominant defensive effort in the game’s first 16 minutes to take control.
“We’re still learning how to win in a hostile environment, and there were a lot of people here expecting us to do this, that and the other, and we just didn’t perform. This is their home, and they’re used to playing here,” Harlan coach David Parks said. “I know they started two freshmen, but we started a freshman, two sophomores, a junior and a senior. I take my hat off to them. They played very well. I think we helped them play well at times, but we’ll start back to work tomorrow. It’s not the end of the world.”
Harlan County limited the Green Dragons to just three points in the first quarter as it pulled away. Junior Trey Sanders had five points in the opening period as the Black Bears jumped out to a 14-3 advantage.
The lead continued to grow in the second quarter. Harlan could only manage seven points in the period. Freshman Cameron Carmical recorded five of his 11 points in the second quarter as the Bears pushed their lead to 25-10 at the half. Carmical, and juniors Cody Bumgardner and Zach Caldwell each had 11 points for Harlan County to lead the way offensively.
“I was concerned before the game. This was a game they had been looking forward to,” Parks said. “We have several kids who were here and are now with us. It’s OK to be emotional and look forward to it, but you have to perform, and we didn’t do that. You aren’t going to beat anybody scoring 10 points at the half, yet we were still in the game. It’s a learning process. They’re young kids played really well, and we struggled at times. It’s a process.”
Sophomore Drew Parks did his best to keep Harlan in the game in the third quarter. The shooting guard drained a pair of 3-pointers and finished with eight points in the quarter, but the Green Dragons still trailed by 15. Back-to-back baskets by Fred Massey put Harlan County up by 18 points late in the quarter, but Harlan closed by scoring four of the last five points in the period.
Harlan County held off a final Green Dragon rally in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Caleb Hogue grabbed a rebound and raced the length of the floor for a layup to close the gap to 43-32 with just over five minutes remaining, but Harlan was unable to get closer than nine the rest of the way.
“I thought we should have been up more at the half, but their kids played hard and didn’t quit and did some good things offensively in the second half,” Jones said. “We need to start forcing turnovers to get some easy baskets. The reason we didn’t do more of that the second half was we weren’t getting to them like we were early in the game, and I didn’t want to give up real easy shots. We want to be glad we won, but we don’t want to be satisfied.”
Harlan County (7-9) returns to action Friday at home against 14th Region power Perry Central, while Harlan (9-3) will host Middlesboro in a 52nd District contest.
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Sophomore Cody Brewer recorded 12 points and freshman David Turner added 11 as Harlan County (7-1) rallied in the second half for a 45-36 victory in the junior varsity contest. William Bowling contributed nine points for the Black Bears. Jared Sizemore had seven points. Malik Simmons added six points.
Freshman Trent McKenzie paced Harlan (7-3) with 11 points. Junior Jordan Dupar delivered seven points. Brandon Huff had five points. Brandon Osborne and Tyler Carmical each recorded three points. Austin Wilson, Zach Hensley and Ethan Mortonhad two points each, while Tanner Parks added one point.
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Harlan County (59) — Cody Bumgardner 11, Cameron Carmical 11, Treyce Spurlock 7, Zach Caldwell 11, Scotty Bailey 5, Trey Sanders 8, Fred Massey 6, Cody Brewer 0.
Harlan (49) — Noah Busroe 2, Drew Parks 15, Caleb Hogue 4, Tyler Miller 11, Aaron Simpson 3, Leighton Piper 7, Jordan Dupar 0, Manny Davis 7, Brandon Osborne 0.