Bears’ comeback falls short in loss to Lyon at King of the Bluegrass


John Henson

Harlan County’s Maddox Huff went to the basket against Lyon County’s Lukas Breedlove on Saturday. Huff scored 18 points as the Bears fell 76-73.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

FAIRDALE — Making the first appearance at the King of the Bluegrass for a Harlan County team since the Cawood Trojans of 1983, the Harlan County Black Bears knew they would face great competition, and they got plenty of that in the first round Saturday evening against defending 2nd Region champ Lyon County, one of the state’s top teams.
With a lineup featuring four standout ball-handlers and three scorers averaging over 20 points per game, the Lyons put on a clinic in running the floor and scoring quickly in transition. Lyon built an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter, but then had to fight off a spirited comeback by the Black Bears to win 76-73.
Travis Perry, the state’s second-ranked player behind North Laurel’s Reed Sheppard and the top-rated junior, scored 29 points to lead the 7-1 Lyons. Junior forward Brady Shoulders added 20 points. Junior guard Jack Reddick chipped in with 13 points.
Trent Noah, the state’s second-ranked junior, led the Black Bears with 22 points. Daniel Carmical hit seven 3-pointers and finished with 21 points. Maddox Huff chipped in with 18 points.
Perry and Shoulders traded baskets with Carmical and Noah in the early going. HCHS grabbed a 15-10 lead before Lyon closed 11 straight points to go up 21-15 after one quarter. The run reached 16 straight points in the second quarter as Lyon took an 11-point lead. The Lyons took a 42-28 advantage into the break as Perry converted a long lob pass into a basket at the buzzer. Harlan County hit seven of 12 shots in the quarter but Lyon connected on nine of 15 and outrebounded the Bears 11-1 in the quarter.
“They are very difficult to guard, and we knew that coming in. We knew who their shooters were,” Harlan County coach Kyle Jones said. “I felt the second quarter was when we lost the game. We had too many turnovers and left one of their shooters (Shoulders) open, and they extended the lead. I thought that was the difference. We had to play catch up the rest of the game.”
Lyon’s lead reached 18 with five minutes left in the third quarter and was 61-47 going into the fourth quarter as Perry had five baskets in the period.
“That team right there can beat anybody on our schedule,” Jones said. “Jonah (Swanner) was right in Perry’s face several times and he was knocking down shots. That’s why he’s one of the better players in the state.”
Harlan County put up quite a fight in the final quarter, hitting 10 of 19 shots. Huff and Carmical each hit three 3-pointers in the period while Noah and Jonah Swanner added two baskets each. Carmical hit three treys in a two-minute stretch, but the Bears could only cut a 14-point deficit to nine as the Lyons were strong off the dribble and answered several times.
“If Daniel is making shots, we’re hard to beat,” Jones said. “Daniel made some big shots tonight. I also thought he played hard defensively. I thought all our kids played hard.”
The Bears went on a 10-2 run over the final minute with Huff hitting a 40-footer as time expired, cutting an 11-point deficit to three.
“The kids fought hard against the 12th rated team in the state,” Jones said. “There are no moral victories, but I have to feel good about their effort the second half.”
Harlan County will play Fairdale on Sunday at 6 p.m. in the consolation bracket. Lyon County will play LaRue County in the quarterfinals of the winners bracket.

Harlan County guard Daniel Carmical pursued Lyon County’s Jack Reddick on Saturday in the King of the Bluegrass tournament. Carmical scored 21 points in the Bears’ 76-73 loss. (John Henson)