HINDMAN — After watching his Perry Central Commodores put together impressive offensive performances in wins over Lawrence County and Clay County in the first two rounds of the WYMT Classic, coach Shannon Hoskins knew they would have to turn up the heat on defense to win a championship matchup against Harlan County.
“When you play Harlan County you know you better do a good job defensively because (Harlan County coach) Michael (Jones) will,” Perry Central coach Shannon Hoskins said.
The Commodores opened the game in a matchup zone and battled to a one-point halftime lead. They switched to a box-and-chaser in the second half with Matt Turner chasing Treyce Spurlock and the front two men in the zone working to keep Cameron Carmical out of the lane.
The Bears shot only 30 percent (six of 20) in the second half and Carmical was held to 17 points after exploding for 32 on Friday in a win over South Laurel.
“The first half we wanted to play the matchup and limit Carmical’s penetration,” Hoskins said. “Some other guys stepped up and hit shots for them, so we had to change. We wanted to use the top two guys in the box to keep him out of the lane and try to keep Treyce from getting off shots.”
“We shot it pretty well in the first quarter, but not after that. We held Perry Central to 53 points, so we should have won the ball game,” Jones said. “We missed too many shots in the paint. We weren’t going in there strong and finishing. We got good shots. If we make those shots, we win in double figures, I feel like. I’m proud of our effort, but we didn’t come over to be satisfied to get to the finals. We’ll get back to work Monday.”
Carmical led the 14-3 Bears despite his slow start. Drew Nolan, a sophomore guard, finished with 12 points, all in the first half.
Spurlock was held to six points but had a big night on the glass with 16 rebounds and also had several blocks to join Carmical on the all-tournament team.
Damon Tobler, an athletic 6-foot-3 junior ranked among the top teams in the 14th Region, was a matchup problem for the Bears as he finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.
“We talked about it before the game,” Hoskins said of the plan to go to Tobler. “We thought he was our biggest advantage, his quickness on their post people.”
Senior guard James Blair added 13 points for the 13-3 Commodores, who are picked to win the 14th Region.
Neither team led by more than two points in the first quarter and both had five field goals. Nolan hit two of three shots in the period, and Lamar Burkhart hit two free throws to put HCHS up 13-11 after one quarter.
Harlan County extended its lead to five early in the second period as Simmons and Carmical each had baskets sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Nolan.
Back, Tobler and Austin Hill reeled off consecutive baskets to put the Commodores up by two. Another Nolan trey gave Harlan County a brief one-point advantage before Tobler had a basket and two free throws on successive trips to put Perry Central up by three. Spurlock’s putback to close the half cut the Perry Central lead to 28-27.
“Their pressure bothered us and forced us to take some bad shots and got us in a little bit of a funk,” Hoskins said. “We came back in the second half and executed a lot better.”
The Commodores went to Tobler to start the third quarter as he took the first five shots, making two to extend Perry Central’s lead to 32-29. David Turner had a basket inside for the Bears, shooting over Tobler, the first of three for the junior center in the quarter.
While Turner was perfect in the quarter, the rest of the Bears combined to miss eight of eight shots as Perry Central took a 39-35 lead into the final period.
Harlan County turned the ball over on its first four possessions in the fourth quarter as the lead grew to eight with five minutes left on two straight baskets by Tobler.
Perry Central led by 12 when Carmical sparked a lot charge that got the Bears as close as five in the final minute. Blair hit four of six free throw to help put the game away.
Harlan County returns to action Monday at Corbin.
Harlan County won first place in cheerleading in the girls division.
Spurlock and Carmical were all-tournament selections for the boys, while Harlan County’s Kaylea Gross and Blair Green and Harlan’s Brooklyn Massingill made it on the girls side.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134