Redhounds control tempo, HC offense in regional victory


Les Nicholson

Harlan County junior guard Jonah Swanner went up for a shot in 13th Region Tournament action Thursday against Corbin.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

CORBIN — Playing a slow tempo in the first half and a fast one with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, the Corbin Redounds proved to be better at both to send Harlan County home in the first round of the 13th Region Tournament at the Corbin Arena on Thursday. The Hounds limited the high-powered HC offense to 14 points in the first half, then hit eight of 10 shots in outscoring the Bears 28-24 in the final period on the way to a 61-53 victory to end a three-game losing streak against Harlan County in regional action.
“We knew we would see more pressure the second half, and I thought we handled it well for the most part,” Corbin coach Tony Pietrowski said. “I thought we mixed and matched and made shots when we needed to. Hats off to Harlan County because they have a tremendous team and had a great season.”
“We felt we had a good gameplan going in. They hadn’t shot particularly well in the games we saw, but they hit some shots early and took us out of what we wanted to do,” Harlan County coach Kyle Jones said. “They controlled the pace early. We had our opportunities. We cut it to one in the third quarter, then they had a three-point play. Corbin played a great game defensively. They were really physical and made it tough on us. We missed shots.”
After slow starts, Maddox Huff and Trent Noah led the Bears with 23 and 22 points, respectively, but the Hounds held the remainder of the HCHS roster to eight points and limited Harlan County to 35 percent shooting (17 of 49)
“We were chasing (Daniel) Carmical, because we know his shooting is ability to shoot is lights out. I didn’t realize we held him scoreless, so hats off to Hayden (Llewellyn) and Carter (Stewart) because they had that responsibility most of the night,” Pietrowski said. “We tried guard Trent (Noah) as well as we could and make him tough shots and I thought we did a good job. (Maddox) Huff got hot in the second half for a while. They have three kids who can really play.”
The Bears, who ended the season ranked sixth in the state in the RPI ratings, couldn’t overcome a rare bad night on offense.
The 22-7 Redounds were led by a career night from freshman Eli Pietrowski, who scored 20 points off the bench.
“As his dad I’m all smiles and certainly proud of the way he played,” said the Corbin coach. “We’ve talked all season about taking advantage of opportunities, and he did that tonight.”
Junior guard Carter Stewart added 11 points for the Redounds, who also owned a 27-22 advantage on the boards.
“I thought the difference might have been rebounding. We rebounded really well,” Pietrowski said. “People who play Harlan County sometimes overlook (Jonah) Swanner and (Jaycee) Carter and (Caleb Johnson). The way they rebound is impressive.”
The loss was the first for the Bears in 14 games this year against 13th Region competition, and Jones recorded the second most victories for a first-year coach in Harlan County history with a 27-6 record.
“It’s always tough when you have had a successful season like we have,” Jones said. “I hate it for our kids and hate it for our fans. We had community and school backing the last few weeks I haven’t seen in a while. I hate it for our seniors and all the kids. I told the kids I really appreciate them letting me coach them this year. I learned a lot and would be there for them in life.”
With four starters and several key reserves returning, the Bears could be ranked first in next year’s preseason poll.
“I’m frustrated and disappointed now for our kids and hurt for them,” Jones said. “We’ll take a couple of weeks off, but they have to get in the gym and go to work, and it can’t be just a couple of them.”
Corbin will play Barbourville in the semifinals on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Barbourville advanced with a 68-57 win over Clay County in the opening game Thursday.


Harlan County’s Daniel Carmical guarded Carter Stewart in 13th Region Tournament action Thursday. Carmical finished his career with the Bears in the 61-53 loss. (Les Nicholson)
Harlan County guard Maddox Huff worked against Corbin center Marc Warren in 13th Region Tournament action Thursday. Huff led the Bears with 23 points in a 61-53 loss. (Les Nicholson)
Harlan County guard Trent Noah worked past Corbin’s Carter Stewart in 13th Region Tournament action Thursday. (Les Nicholson)