McKEE — After foul problems turned him into a spectator for much of Harlan County’s season-opening win Tuesday at Letcher Central, Treyce Spurlock was more than ready for another chance to show why he’s one of the 13th Region’s top players.
Spurlock, Harlan County’s 6-foot-6 junior wing, bounced back with a big performance Saturday afternoon in the PRTC Classic at Jackson County High School, scoring 31 points in the Black Bears’ 70-68 win over Madison Southern.
“He responded. You could tell he was ready to go when the game started,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “That’s what we need from Treyce. He’s a matchup problem for a lot of teams.”
“They only missed one or two shots in the first six minutes,” Madison Southern coach Shane Buttry said of the Bears’ fast start. “We were there. It’s not like I can complain about our defense, because we were right there on the guy. One time (Spurlock) hit one right in front of me, and I just had to say it was a heck of a shot. If you look back on it, that first quarter was probably the difference in the game. It was a heck of a game. Anyone who paid to get in saw a heck of a game.”
Spurlock hit his first six shots and scored 21 points in the first half. He did most of his scoring from the line in the second half as the Eagles turned their attention to him.
“I have to do a better job of getting him the ball when he’s in a flow like that,” Jones said. “I’m proud of them though. We won a game the other day without Treyce playing as well as he can, and we won a game today without Cameron (Carmical) playing his best. If they all play well, we’re going to be pretty good.”
The Bears also got a big game from junior center David Turner, who hit all five of his shots from the field in a 13-point performance.
“We talked in practice the other day about he has to relax and play,” Jones said. “David can shoot the jumper, and he can defend and rebound.”
Carmical, who scored 23 points in the win over Letcher, scored 10 against Madison Southern and tied Spurlock for team high in rebounds with six. Sophomore forward Tyrese Simmons was perfect from the field and the line with nine points and five rebounds.
Madison Southern (0-2) suffered its second straight loss to open the season and had a similar problem in both at the free throw line. The Eagles hit 16 of 33, compared to 24 of 39 for the Bears.
“We missed 17 free throws, and that killed us,” Buttery said. “We missed 10 or 11 against (Madison) Central. We have to do a better job of that. Basketball is a free-throw shooting contest now.”
The Eagles placed four in double figures, led by guards Tanner Kidwell and Caleb Miller with 14 each. Post players Griffin Gabbard and Stacy Burns added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Spurlock ignited an early run by the Bears as he hit his first three shots, part of five-for-five shooting by HCHS to open the game for a 17-5 lead before the midpoint of the period.
Madison Southern fought back by also shooting well, going on a 12-2 run to get as close as two before Spurlock and Turner each hit shots put the Bears up 25-21 after one quarter. Each team hit nine of 14 from the field in the opening period.
“We came out with a lot of intensity and played well, both offensively and defensively,” Jones said. “Then we went through a spurt where we weren’t getting back defensively. We also didn’t block out on missed free throws, and we didn’t guard the dribble well. We started well, but we didn’t do much in the middle.”
Spurlock and Turner added back-to-back baskets once again as HCHS quickly pushed its lead back to eight. A 3-pointer by Carmical and putback by Tyrese Simmons gave the Bears a 12-point cushion with 2:40 left in the half. A 3-pointer by Madison Southern’s Shawn Short cut the deficit to 43-32 at halftime.
Madison Southern opened the third quarter with seven straight points, but two jumpers by Turner and a trey by Simmons pushed the HCHS lead back to nine. The Eagles closed the period with a 9-4 run to close within two as a 3-pointer by Spurlock was the only basket for the Bears in the final three and a half minutes.
Madison Southern took its first lead at the 5:53 mark of the fourth quarter after two baskets by Kidwell. Harlan County responded with an 8-0 sparked by Spurlock and Carmical to go up by seven.
The Eagles battled back to get within one when Burns hit one of two at the line with 38.5 seconds left. Harlan County failed to build on its lead at the line as Carmical and Spurlock each missed one of two and Drew Nolan missed two. Gabbard missed a chance to put the Eagles ahead with four seconds remaining. Nolan grabbed the rebound and drew a foul with 3.7 seconds to play. He hit one of the two at the line, then Kidwell missed a runner at the buzzer that could have tied the game.
Harlan County returns to action Tuesday in its home opener, taking on Knox Central in a rematch from last year’s 13th Region Tournament.