STANTON — A great third quarter helped the Harlan County Black Bears overcome a slow start and a bad finish in the Red River Classic on Monday at Powell County High School.
Harlan County (10-1) scored on its first five possessions of the second half and built a 23-point lead, then had to hold off a late Tates Creek rally to beat the Commodores 65-56.
“We played about as well offensively the third quarter as we have in a while,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “We got in too big of a hurry the fourth quarter and didn’t handle the basketball.”
The Bears again benefited from big games by junior guards Treyce Spurlock and Cameron Carmical, who scored 25 and 17 points, respectively.
Junior guard Eric Boone poured in 35 points to lead the 1-9 Commodores. Freshman guard Isaiah Allen added 11 points.
Spurlock carried the HCHS offense early after the Bears opened the game by going scoreless over the first three minutes and fell behind 12-7. Spurlock had nine points in the opening quarter, sparking a 9-0 run to close the period that put Harlan County up 16-12.
A Drew Nolan jumper followed by a trey from Spurlock pushed the Bears’ advantage to nine points in the second quarter. Tates Creek closed to within six behind Boone, but Carmical reeled off five straight points, the first after a technical against the Commodores, to give Harlan County a 33-24 lead at halftime.
A jumper by David Turner started a 20-6 HCHS run to begin the second half. Carmical and Nolan sandwiched 3-pointers around two baskets by Spurlock in a 13-0 spurt that put the Bears up by 22. Another Carmical trey gave Harlan County its biggest lead at 53-30 with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
Tates Creek closed to within 18 by the end of the third quarter and got as close as 14 with six minutes left before Harlan County appeared to regain control with baskets by Turner and Andrew Creech to make it a 19-point game with 5:22 to play.
The Commodores fought back again as HCHS struggled for several minutes against the Tates Creek press. Led by Boone and Allen, Tates Creek went on a 17-4 run and cut the deficit to six with 22 seconds left before one free throw by Creech and two by Nolan helped HCHS put the game away.
Even though the Commodores’ record is the worst in the 11th Region, they were still athletic enough in the backcourt to cause problems at times for the Bears.
“I reminded the kids before the game who they played. You’re talking about Henry Clay, Lafayette, Bryan Stations and Lexington Christian, so if you put them in the 13th Region their record would be a lot better,” Jones said. “It was a good win for us.”
Harlan County will return to action on Tuesday at 3:30 against Russell County, one of the top teams in the 4th Region. The Bears will close tournament play on Wednesday at 1:30 against Menifee County.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134