Bears come up clutch with late 14-0 run to down South Laurel


Jon Dickenson

Harlan County guard Trent Noah scored 34 points as the Black Bears claimed a hard-fought 71-63 win Thursday over visiting South Laurel.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

After three quarters and two minutes of playing catch up against a South Laurel team that shot 61 percent (20 of 33) through the first three periods, the Harlan County Black Bears turned to Trent Noah and Maddox Huff with the game on the line. The Bears’ standout guards, both ranked among the top six players in the region, sparked a 14-0 run with two baskets each as Harlan County pulled away for a 71-64 victory.
“I thought Trent and Maddox played real well down the stretch,” Harlan County coach Kyle Jones said. “Daniel didn’t shoot that well the first half, but he hit a big one during the run. I also thought Jonah Swanner kept us in the game in the first half with his hustle and getting loose balls and making tough shots. I also thought Brody Napier came through for us. There will be nights we need someone to come in and he made a big shot and some rebounds. I think that will give him some confidence.”
Huff and Noah hit back-to-back 3s to start the run, then Noah scored on a tip-in for a 59-54 lead with 4:46. With the Bears in their spread offense, Huff hit another 3. Then Carmical connected after a Napier block to push the Bears’ cushion to 65-54 with three minutes left. South got as close as six before Noah put the game away with two free throws with 11.5 seconds left.
Noah scored 34 on 11-of-14 shooting to lead the 11-3 Bears. Huff added 16 points and Swanner scored 11.
The 10-4 Cardinals were led by sophomore forward Jordan Mabe with 16 points. Eli Gover and Caden Jones added 14 and 12 points, respectively. Parker Payne added 11 despite missing all but two minutes of the first half after picking up two quick fouls.
South came out hot from the start, hitting seven of 12 shots in the opening period. The Cardinals led by as many as five points before Noah and Carmical each hit 3s to cut the deficit to 17-15 after one quarter.
The Cardinals hit six of their first eight shots in the second quarter, led by two baskets each from Garland, Mabe and Jones. The Bears switched from a zone to a man-to-man during the run and battled back to within one, at 34-33, with an 8-2 run to close the half.
Noah started to heat up in the third quarter, hitting all four of his shots, but the Cardinals were able to maintain a one-point advantage going into the fourth quarter as Payne returned to hit three of five shots.
The Cardinals finally cooled off in the fourth quarter, hitting four of 12 shots while HCHS connected on five of 10, including four of five from behind the 3-point line.
“We played our normal matchup zone, but they were doing a real good job of getting the ball in the middle and killing us on the baseline,” Jones said. “We decided to go man because I felt we needed to speed the game up. I was a little nervous about it since we hadn’t played it a lot, but we got stops when we needed to. They shot very well the first half, and a lot of that was our defensive intensity. I thought we played really well the fourth quarter.”
Both teams return to action Saturday in the Raymond Reed Classic. HCHS plays St. Henry at 3:30 p.m. South Laurel will take on Bell County at 7 p.m.
South Laurel capitalized on several late Harlan County turnovers to win 44-38 in junior varsity action.
Max Fullmer scored 20 points to lead the Cardinals. Garrison Brown and Trevor Triplett added nine and eight points, respectively. Blaine Baker scored five. Josh Neal added two.
Brody Napier led the 2-3 Bears with 20 points. Ethan Simpson scored 17. Hunter Napier added five. Aidan Reynolds and Taelor Haywood scored two each.