Bears bounce back with rout of Breathitt


Kim Henson

Sophomore guard Maddox Huff worked around a Breathitt County defender in action from the WYMT Mountain Classic on Saturday. Huff scored 29 points in the Bears’ 82-57 victory.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

HAZARD — One night after a heartbreaking last-second loss to Perry Central ended their hopes of their first WYMT Mountain Classic title, the Harlan County Black Bears had more bad news when it was determined that all-state guard Trent Noah would sit out the game due to an ankle injury he suffered late in the Perry game.
The Black Bears were able to put the disappointment behind them with a 15-2 run to start the game and dominated the rest of the way in an 82-57 victory over preseason 14th Region favorite Breathitt County.
“I’m super proud of this team right now. I could tell in the locker room before the game that these kids were ready,” Harlan County coach Kyle Jones said. “We’ve got a good basketball team. I told some of them they had to pick up the slack with Trent not playing. This was good for us for some of these guys to see the ball go in.”
Sophomore point guard Maddox Huff took over a leadership role for the Bears with a 29-point, 12-assist effort.
“We have all the confidence in the world in Maddox and he knows that,” Jones said. “He texted me last night and said he had to be better, and he was phenomenal tonight.”
Huff wasn’t a one-man show though as Daniel Carmical hit five 3-pointers in a 15-point effort and junior Jonah Swanner played his usual strong defensive game while adding 13 points. Sophomore center Jaycee Carter tossed in 12 points and junior forward Caleb Johnson added eight points and 11 rebounds as he made a start in place of Noah.
“That will give those guys confidence and us confidence in them,” Jones said. “I was also proud of Daniel Carmical and his leadership. He was off a little the last couple of nights, but he made some big shots tonight and gave us a lot of leadership.”
Christian Collins, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, led the Bobcats with 18 points, but he was limited to only four shots in the first half as the Bears took a commanding lead.
“I think our defensive effort the last couple of games has been phenomenal,” Jones said. “If we can keep people from scoring like we did today, we’ll be a tough out. We talked before the game that we wanted to dig on our wings whenever (Collins) caught it to make it tough on him.
Sophomore guard Austin Sperry, the 14th Region’s top-rated player, finished with 13 points. He went down hard on his back on a rebound attempt with 4:01 left in the game and was eventually taken off the court in a stretcher. The game was stopped by officials at that point.
Harlan County will return to action Tuesday at home in a district girls/boys doubleheader against Bell County.