Jackets close strong, win Pine Mountain tourney


Middlesboro won the Pine Mountain Conference Tournament on Wednesday in Pineville.

A Middlesboro golf team that made a habit of finishing second early in the season seems to have picked the right time to peak.
Middlesboro shot a 372 over the two-day Pine Mountain Conference Tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Wasioto Winds Golf Course in Pineville, well ahead of Bell County and its 413 points.
“The guys have worked hard all season and came together as a team,” Middlesboro coach Allen Wilford said “They are a great group of guys on and off the course. They have each improved as the season went on.”
Middlesboro’s Tyler Harris was the individual champion with a 78, beating Knox Central’s Alex Smith by five strokes and Bell County’s Andrew Caldwell by six strokes. Harlan County’s Matt Lewis tied Middlesboro’s Nick Cox for fourth place with an 89. Harlan County’s Brayden Casolari was next with a 90. Kobe Burkhart rounded out the field for HCHS with a 102.
“I’m very proud of my guys tonight. The first day of the tournament was tough. Today was much better,” Harlan County coach Greg Lewis said. “Both Matt and Brayden finished top five in the tournament. Kobe Burkhart finished one shot back in the JV portion of the event.
“I can’t say how well Matt has played this season. He went through a swing change while playing tournament golf. He put in the work and earned his spot on the all-conference first team. This week he was a couple bad holes away from contending for the tournament win. He drove the ball as well as he has all year and struck the ball very well. He’s just scratching the surface of his potential. He’s got a lot of great golf ahead of him. As his Dad, I have to say I’m incredibly proud of his season. He set goals to begin our season and he’s met them all through a ton of hard work and dedication to his game. I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes in the game in the future. Brayden has had a breakout season. He has surpassed all expectations I had for him. I have to remind myself that he’s just a seventh-grader. To finish in the top five this week is very impressive. He has struggled a bit the past couple weeks with his ball striking but he’s starting to hit it better. He had a few big numbers this week or he could have had a really good finish. I’m proud of his second team all-conference finish. He earned his spot through some great play this season. Like Matt, he’s got a lot of great golf in front of him.”
Carson Murray led Harlan with a 105, followed by Aiden Johnson with a 111 and Kevin Thomas Lee with a 123.
“This week’s tournament closed out our regular season. I’m so proud of these young men. Every week they have improved. I’ve seen them fight through adversity, gain confidence and become better golfers. They’ve gone from having a few bad holes during a match to only a few bad shots. The last few weeks we have been focusing on smooth swings and shots and setting goals of two-putting every green. They all have responded well,” Harlan coach Jeremy Lee said.
“Carson Murray has become more confident with his driver over the last few matches and is more in control of his game as a whole. Yesterday he had a few tough shots out of bounds that cost him some strokes. Today he was focused, was great with his driver and did well on the green which improved his score by nine strokes. I think he will do well in the region. Aiden Johnson has become our most consistent player this season. His scores improved every week and his efforts earned him second-team all-conference honors. As a freshman, that is quite an accomplishment. Aiden had a solid day yesterday. The average score was a 51 and Aiden came in with a 53. Today he had some tough shots but finished strong. Kevin Thomas Lee participated in the JV match and did well. Yesterday was a tough match for him but today he pulled it together and improved his score by 13 strokes. Kevin Thomas won a JV match earlier in the year, and I think will be able to compete on varsity next season.”
Hayden Clark was second for Bell with a 91, followed by William Miracle with a 110 and Bub Treece with a 128.
Garrison Warren shot a 97 and Warren Vaught shot a 108 for Middlesboro.
The Region 10 Tournament is set for Monday in Somerset.

Harlan County’s Matt Lewis finished fourth on Wednesday in the Pine Mountain Conference Tournament and earned first-team all-conference honors.


Middlesboro’s Tyler Harris won the Pine Mountain Conference Tournament individual title on Wednesday.


Bell County’s Andrew Caldwell was named the Pine Mountain Conference player of the year.