Black Bears storm past Middlesboro and into 52nd District Tournament finals


Jon Dickenson

Harlan County guard Jonah Swanner sailed in for two of his 10 points in the Bears’ 80-39 rout of Middlesboro in the 52nd District Tournament.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

MIDDLESBORO — Heavily favored as the top seed in this week’s 52nd District Tournament, the Harlan County Black Bears weren’t about to give tournament host Middlesboro a chance to gain confidence in a first-round game Tuesday,.
Harlan County hit six of its first seven shots in building a 25-12 lead after one quarter on the way to an 80-39 victory. The Bears were up 18 points at halftime before outscoring Middlesboro 34-7 in the third quarter in starting a running clock. The Jackets turned the ball over 11 times in the period as HCHS hit 14 of 18 shots.
“We worked the last couple of days on pressuring the ball and focusing on some of the players who hurt us the last time we played them,” Harlan County coach Kyle Jones said. “We can score, but if we guard we’re hard to beat. I felt we turned the tempo up on defense, especially in the third quarter.”
Junior guard Trent Noah hit 10 of 12 shots as he led the 26-5 Bears with 21 points. Daniel Carmical hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter and finished with 19 points, reaching the 1,000-point mark on his final trey in the closing seconds of the period.
“I’m tickled to death for him. He’s a four-year player here and one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen,” Jones said. “He deserves that. I know he’s remember to move on and worry about the district championship.”
Noah and Huff each had nine points in the first quarter as the Bears converted six turnovers into several easy buckets while hitting 11 of 17 shots to build a 25-12 lead. Beck had three of the five Middlesboro baskets in the period. Huff hit four of six shots in the quarter and finished with 13 points in his first game back after missing two games last week due to an ankle injury.
Harlan County’s lead grew to 24, at 42-18, midway through the second quarter as freshman Reggie Cottrell provided a spark off the bench with two 3-pointers. Jones had four reserves in the the game the last couple of minutes of the half as four HCHS starters had two fouls. The Jackets cut the deficit to 42-24 by halftime as the HC offense stalled.
Carmical and Huff each had five baskets in the third quarter as Swanner scored all 10 of his points in the period without missing a shot.
Sophomore guard Jerimah Beck scored 11 points to lead the Jackets, who finished 9-22 for the second straight year. The Jackets will lose six seniors to graduation, but do return three starters.
Harlan County will play Harlan in the 52nd District Tournament finals on Friday at 7 p.m.


Harlan County’s Trent Noah went up to slam home two of his 21 points on Tuesday as the Black Bears overpowered Middlesboro in the 52nd District Tournament. (Chandra Howard)