With 12 wins in 13 games, the Harlan County Black Bears have had their best season against 13th Region teams in the history of the school.
The Bears will have a chance Thursday at the Corbin Arena to avenge their only 13th Region loss when they take on Corbin at 6:30 p.m.
Harlan County (23-4), playing its fifth game in 10 days after placing second in the WYMT Mountain Classic, fell 57-55 at Corbin on Jan. 11 as star sophomore guard Andrew Taylor hit the game-winning shot in the closing seconds, the last of his game-high 30 points.
Corbin (19-10) lost 77-58 to South Laurel in the finals of the 50th District Tournament.
South Laurel (24-6), the region’s top-ranked team at No. 6 in the state, will play Bell County (12-16), the 52nd District runner up, on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Knox Central (16-10), the 51st District champion, will play North Laurel (24-5) in the opening game of the tournament at 6:30 p.m.
Clay County (23-7), the champs of the 49th District, will play Barbourville (14-15) in the last first-round game on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
The semifinals are set for Saturday afternoon, beginning at 1 p.m. The championship game is set for Monday at 7:30 p.m.
On the girls side, it appears the top bracket is the toughest with three of the region’s top four teams opening play Monday.
Two-time runner up Harlan (24-4), the favorite in the region all season long, will play Knox Central (9-15) on Monday at 8 p.m. in a game that ended too late for today’s edition. With a win, the Lady Dragons will play North Laurel on Friday in the semifinals.
North (23-9) advanced witha 75-50 win over Corbin (16-13), the 50th District champ, in last night’s opening game. Senior guard Kayla Bruner scored 20 points to lead the Lady Jaguars. Madison Sheppard added 11.
Seniors Morgan Philpot and Jaclyn Jewell scored 14 and 11 points, respectively, to lead Corbin.
Harlan County (21-8) is back in the region tournament after two years away and appears to be the favorite in the bottom bracket. The Lady Bears play Clay County on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The Lady Bears defeated Clay County 54-32 on Nov. 30 in the regular season opener at Manchester, but the Lady Tigers are one of the region’s hottest teams going into the tournament with eight wins in their last nine games.
Pineville (22-7) is one of the region’s biggest surprises, knocking off Lynn Camp and Knox Central to win the 51st District Tournament title. The Lady Lions play 50th District runner up South Laurel (15-16) on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
The semifinals are set for Friday night with the championship game scheduled Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The 13th Region champion will play the 3rd Region winner on March 10 at noon at the BB&T Arena on the campus of Northern Kentucky University.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134