RICHMOND — Fouls were a big problem for the Harlan County Black Bears on Saturday as they found themselves tied at halftime against Richmond Model.
Missed shots were an even bigger problem. The Bears missed eight of 10 attempts from the field in the second period as Model pulled even at 18-18 at the break.
Harlan County fixed its shooting woes in the second half, slowly pulling away for a 62-52 win over the Patriots that improved the Bears’ record to 19-4.
Drew Nolan and Tyrese Simmons sat out much of the first quarter with two fouls each and much of the second quarter with three, and the Harlan County offense struggled without them. The Bears had only eight baskets in the first half.
“Drew and Ty being in foul trouble and sitting on the bench hurt us. It got us out of our offense,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “We still got some great looks in the first half. We just didn’t hit shots.”
Harlan County fell behind by two early in the third quarter before Nolan hit two straight shots, including a 3-pointer. Cameron Carmical followed with a 3-pointer for a six-point lead. Treyce Spurlock took over at that point, working inside the Model zone for a couple of baskets to help the Bears pull out to a 36-29 lead by the end of the third quarter.
Alex Chen, a 6-foot-3 senior center, kept Model in the game as he had all but three of his team’s baskets in the first three quarters on the way to a 26-point, 10-rebound effort to lead the 11-15 Patriots.
Harlan County’s lead grew to 10 midway through the fourth quarter as Spurlock had two baskets and three free throws, but with Chen scoring just about every time down the court the game stayed close. Chen scored off a strong inside move with 2:30 left to pull the Patriots within five.
Carmical took over from there, hitting eight of 10 free throws in a 13-8 run to close the game.
“I give credit to the kids for responding. I got on them pretty hard at halftime,” Jones said. “We’ve got to have the ball in Cameron’s hands at the end of the game. We also adjusted our press offense in the third quarter and put Treyce in the middle. We did a good job of getting it to him, and he did a great job of attacking. I’m proud of all the kids. Any time you go on the road in the 11th Region, no matter what the team’s record is, it’s tough, and we’ll take the win.”
Carmical scored 22 points and Spurlock added 16 as the Bears topped their win total from a year ago with four regular-season games still to play.
Harlan County returns to action Monday at South Laurel, the 13th Region’s top-rated team. HCHS won a previous matchup against the Cardinals in the semifinals of the WYMT Mountain Classic.
Harlan County overcome a bad first half to win 50-39 in the junior varsity game.
Freshman guard Gabe Price led the Bears with 20 points. Alex Pace scored six. Joey Swanner contributed five. Austin Adams, Michael Simpson and Patrick Bynum added four each. A.J. Simmons contributed three. Matthew Simpson and Jared Hawkins chipped in with two each.
Will Freese scored 17 and Emory Cornette added 12 to lead Model.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134