HC finishes 2-2 in King of Bluegrass as Trinity pulls away late in consolation bracket finals


John Henson

Harlan County guard Trent Noah worked around a Trinity defender in action from the King of the Bluegrass tournament on Tuesday. Noah finished with 20 points in the Bears’ 74-62 loss.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

FAIRDALE — Playing their third Louisville opponent in three days at the King of the Bluegrass tournament at Fairdale High School, the Harlan County Black Bears were unable to complete a sweep of the state’s largest city and finished 2-2 overall at one of Kentucky’s most prestigious high school tournaments with a 74-62 loss to Trinity in the consolation bracket championship game.
Harlan County coach Kyle Jones wanted to have potential weak spots exposed by the quality opponents the Bears faced and Trinity’s success on the offensive glass proved to be the difference Tuesday. The Shamrocks outrebounded HCHS 34-25, including 16 on the offensive side to help them outscore the Bears 23-12 in the final quarter.
“I thought the play that changed the game was in the fourth quarter when they got three offensive rebounds on one possession and finally hit a 3 on the third attempt. That pushed the lead from four to seven and was huge,” Jones said. “I felt we got a little tired, and I tried to burn some timeouts to get us rested, but that’s no excuse. This is what we came down here for to play good competition to get us ready. We battled them and played hard the entire game. I was proud of them and saw a lot of good things we can improve on.”
Junior guard Drae Vasser scored 25 points and senior guard Cameron McClain added 24 to lead the 8-2 Shamrocks. Freshman forward Jayden Johnson chipped in with 12 points,
Trent Noah, a junior guard, led the 7-3 Bears with 20 points, earning an all-tournament selection in the process. Sophomore guard Maddox Huff, who scored 28 in a win over Male on Monday, added 14 points. Daniel Carmical and Jonah Swanner chipped in with 12 and nine points, respectively.
Huff hit his first three shots, including two 3-pointers, as HCHS grabbed an early 12-5 lead. Trinity pulled even at 17 before a Carmical trey put the Bears up 20-17 at the end of the opening period.
Harlan County extended its advantage to as many as six points in the second quarter as Noah and Swanner each had baskets and Carmical hit a 3-pointer. Trinity closed the half with a 9-1 run to go up 33-31 at halftime.
Trinity led by five when Noah and Swanner sparked an 8-0 run with back-to-back three-point plays. The lead changed hands several times in the final four minutes of the quarter with Trinity going up 51-50 on a basket by Vasser to end the period.
Vasser and McClain dominated the final period, combining for seven baskets as Trinity slowly took command by hitting nine of 15 shots. Harlan County connected on only four of 11 in the fourth quarter.
Harlan County will travel to Gatlinburg, Tenn., next week to play in the Smokey Mountain Winter Classic.


Harlan County’s Maddox Huff worked against Trinity guard Andrae Vasser in Tuesday’s game in the King of the Bluegrass. Trinity won the consolation bracket of the tournament with a 74-62 win over the Bears, who finished 2-2 in tournament action. (John Henson)