From The Sidelines: Game of the Century – Part 2


Jon Dickenson

Harlan County guard Trent Noah worked against Harlan’s WIll Austin in Thursday’s game. The two teams meet again Tuesday at HCHS.

Despite the build-up over the past two months, last Thursday’s Harlan County at Harlan district clash came pretty close to living up to the hype as the Bears won 68-62 in front of a packed house at Harlan.
The rematch is set for Tuesday at HCHS and both teams are still ranked in the state’s top 20. Harlan County moved ahead of Harlan briefly in the state RPI ratings at 12th, one spot ahead of the Dragons, following an equally impressive win Friday over Pulaski County. But after falling to Newport on Saturday, the Bears dropped to 17th while Harlan moved up to 11th after a blowout win earlier that day over Clay County. Harlan County will be an underdog for a second straight time when the county rivals meet again, but the Bears will have the home-court advantage in a gym where they have never lost to Harlan. The Bears can clinch the top seed with a win while Harlan can force a coin flip if they knock off the Bears.
The most impressive stat of Thursday’s game was the 22-rebound effort by Harlan County guard Trent Noah, especially against one of the best rebounding teams in Kentucky. Will Austin and Jaedyn Gist have given the Dragons the most lethal 1-2 combination on the boards around, but Noah’s total topped the 18 combined for Austin and Gist. HCHS outrebounded Harlan 40-30 for the game, so you can be sure that has been a point of emphasis as the Dragons prepare for the rematch.
Harlan Independent Schools Superintendent C.D. Morton said Thursday’s crowd for the game against Harlan County was the largest he had seen in the Harlan gym, which was built in the late 1960s.
It will be interesting to see how full the HCHS gym will be on Tuesday. My guess for the biggest crowd to this point in the 15-year history of the school is the 2013 13th Region Tournament semifinals. The gym wasn’t full that night but it was as close as I’ve seen with four good teams with large cheering sections the night before Clay County edged Harlan County in the regional finals.
Tuesday’s game will feature three of the state’s top 3-point shooters.
Harlan County senior Daniel Carmical is second in the state, behind only Lyon County star Travis Perry, averaging 4.3 3-pointers per game.
Harlan’s Kaleb McLendon is 11th at 3.5 per game. His brother, Kyler, is 15th at 3.4 per game.
Carmical is also third in the state in percentage, hitting 49.7 percent of his attempts.
After talking last week about the dangers of saying something had never happened before in sports, I received several questions about whether Rosspoint was the first school to sweep all four middle school basketball championships in the same school year.
With the help of Black Mountain eighth-grader Caden Lester, the son of former Harlan all-stater Casey Lester, scouring the records, it appears Rosspoint is the first to pull off this feat. It should be noted, however, that the Enterprise records go back to only 1985. Middle school girls basketball started, if I remember correctly, during the 1973-74 school year, so it could have happened during that era, but no one has spoken up yet stating that it was accomplished before.