Wilder scores 39 as Lady Cats knock off Harlan County


Scott Warren

Bell County forward Gracie Jo Wilder sailed in for two of her 39 points in the Lady Cats’ 67-56 win Tuesday over Harlan County.

By John Henson, Managing Editor





LOG MOUNTAIN — After two heartbreaking losses by a combined total of four points last season at Bell County, the Harlan County Black Bears appeared determined to put some bad memories behind them Tuesday and wasted no time showing it was a new year.
Harlan County hit nine of 12 shots in the opening quarter, building a double-digit lead they would never relinquish on the way to an 88-64 victory that all but locked up one of the top two seeds in next month’s 52nd District Tournament.
“I felt this was the best we’ve played offensively in a while,” Harlan County coach Kyle Jones said. “Our defense was really good. We picked up a few silly fouls, but our defense was good until the last quarter. We kind of relaxed when we got the lead. Overall, I thought the way we shared the ball was great. We just have to keep improving. We’re a hard team to beat if we share the ball and make shots like tonight.”
“They played great early on and I thought our youth showed up in the first half,” Bell County coach Brad Sizemore said. “That zone kind of slowed us down. We were a little shell-shocked, and we dug ourselves a hole. We didn’t move the ball and didn’t get a lot of good shots early.”
Junior guard Trent Noah continued his season-long trend of double-doubles with a 28-point, 15-rebound night as the Bears improved to 15-3 overall and 3-0 in district action. There were several other offensive standouts for the Bears, including Jonah Swanner, who hit eight of nine shots in a 19-point effort. Daniel Carmical hit five 3-pointers and finished with 18 points. Maddox Huff added 14 points.
Senior guard Dawson Woolum, the only starter back from last year’s district championship squad, led the 6-12 Bobcat\s with 27 points. Freshman guard Blake Burnett added 13 points.
Noah and Swanner each had three baskets in the first quarter and Huff added two as the Bears raced to a 26-11 lead. Swanner and Huff were both perfect from the field in the first half as the HCHS lead grew to 44-25 by halftime.
Noah took over in the third quarter with four baskets and eight rebounds as HCHS outscored Bell 25-23. Woolum and Burnett heated up for the Bobcats with three baskets each. Cayden Huff added two baskets.
The two teams played even in the final period until HCHS senior guard Jeremiah Clem, who recently returned from an injury that had sidelined him since the summer, hit a 3-pointer. Noah hit four of fives shots in the period to lead the Bears.
“I was proud of our guys. Until they hit the 3 at the end of the game, we played them even in the second half,” Sizemore said. “I was encouraged by that. We have a young team that has to continue to get better. We have to understand when we play these type of teams we have to be ready to compete, and I didn’t think we were. Give them credit though. Harlan County has a real nice team.”
Harlan County returns to action Thursday at Letcher Central. Bell County travels to Whitley County on Friday.