CORBIN — Andrew Taylor staked his claim to the designation of 13th Region’s best player, a title which seems to change almost daily, with a 30-point performance Monday, capped by the game-winning jumper with three seconds left to lift Corbin to a 57-55 win over visiting Harlan County.
Taylor, a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, hit 14 of 24 shots in leading Corbin to a win over one of the region’s hottest teams. The Bears upset South Laurel last week in the WYMT Mountain Classic, finishing second in the tournament while drawing accolades across the mountains for their execution and hustle.
“He’s a dandy player. We knew he would get his,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “I’m disappointed that on several possessions he went by five of us. We didn’t have the effort we needed. It was a lack of effort on our part.”
Playing their third game in four nights may have taken a toll on the Bears, who didn’t have quite the same energy against Corbin.
“We weren’t ready to play to the start game. When I came in the locker room we weren’t ready to play,” Jones said. “As a result of that we got beat and shouldn’t have got beat. We didn’t execute at the end of the game, and we didn’t take care of the ball. Maybe this will be a wake-up call for them.”
Junior guard Treyce Spurlock played well for the Bears, scoring nine of his team-high 17 points in the third quarter when Harlan County appeared to take the momentum before Taylor grabbed it away again in the fourth quarter. Cameron Carmical and Tyrese Simmons each added 11 points for the Bears.
Zach Maguet added 12 points for the 8-7 Redhounds.
Taylor was all but unstoppable in the first quarter, hitting his first six shots from the field as the Redhounds built a 17-12 lead before a three-point play by Tyrese Simmons cut the deficit to two at the end of the period.
A 3-pointer by Spurlock got the Bears off to a good start in the second quarter, and their lead grew to six when David Turner and Drew Nolan each hit two free throws.
With Taylor covered better than he was early in the game, Maguet sparked a late Corbin run with three straight baskets, including a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the half to tie the game at 29-all.
Spurlock took over in the third quarter with two baskets and four free throws as HCHS was able to build a five-point. Corbin received a boost going into the final period when Corbin’s Tanner Barnes took a pass at midcourt and hit a shot that cut the Bears’ lead to one point.
Another Spurlock trey and baskets by Carmical and Andrew Creech extended Harlan County’s lead to midway through the fourth quarter.
Corbin fought back again, pulling even on a Camron Sizemore 3-pointer with 2:45 left.
A three-point play by Carmical put the Bears back on top, a lead they maintained until Taylor scored with 1:10 to play to tie it at 57-57.
Harlan County appeared ready to take the final shot before Carmical turned it over, setting up Taylor’s game-winner with 3 seconds remaining.
Carmical got off a potential game-winner from 25 feet at the buzzer, but it was off the mark.
Harlan County (14-4) has 10 days off before traveling to Clay County on Jan. 21.
Harlan County got off to a bad start in the junior varsity game and suffered a 62-47 loss.
Cam Maguet scored 17 points, Aaron Money tossed in 14 and Camron Sizemore added 12 to lead Corbin.
Sophomore guard Austin Adams was one of the few bright spots for the 3-3 Bears with 16 points. Jared Hawkins and Matthew Simpson added eight and six points, respectively. Gabe Price, Jacob Branson and Patrick Bynum scored four each. Lucas Boggs contributed two. Xavier Simmons scored one.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134