Michael Jones and the Harlan County Black Bears made a habit of exceeding expectations during the 2016 season, posting a 24-5 record and advancing the 13th Region Tournament final four with a roster that featured three new starters and lacked a senior.
Southeastern Kentucky Conference coaches were impressed as they picked Jones as the league’s coach of the year. Top players and coaches were honored Wednesday during a banquet at Pine Mountain State Park.
Jones, in his second season as head coach of the Bears, seemed to push all the right buttons during the season, including wins over eventual 14th Region champ Buckhorn and eventual 13th Region champ South Laurel in the WYMT Mountain Classic and a 20-point victory over All “A” Classic state champ Cordia late in the season. The Bears blew past Middlesboro and Bell County to capture their second straight 52nd District Tournament title as part of a 10-game winning streak late in the year that included a win over Corbin in the 13th Region Tournament before ending with a loss to Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Standout senior guard Blake Smith, who led Clay County to a regional runner-up finish, was named 3A-5A player of the year. Pineville junior forward Cody Carnes was the A/2A player of the year after leading the Lions to a 13th Region All “A” Classic championship.
The remainder of the All-SEKC team included:
Harlan County — Cameron Carmical, Treyce Spurlock, Tyrese Simmons and Drew Nolan.
Harlan — Drew Parks and Kilian Ledford.
Clay County — Blake Smith, Trey Farmer, Wes Wolfe, Will Sexton and Logan Gabbard.
Pineville — Cody Carnes, Trent Lefevers, Josh Lawson, Will Adams and Tucker Woolum.
Knox Central — Chad Marsee, Wade Liford and Tanner Wells.
Lynn Camp — Jacob Bundy, Bruce Hopkins, Austin Weddle and Austin Maier.
Bell County — Zach Partin and Victor Morris.
Corbin — Andrew Taylor and Zach Maguet.
Williamsburg — Tanner Boggs and Hagen Hawn.
Middlesboro — Christian Hubbard and Drake Thomas.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134