Bears grind out defensive win at South Laurel


Les Dixon

Harlan County senior forward Josh Turner battled for a loose ball in Tuesday’s game at South Laurel. Turner had a game-high 12 rebounds in Harlan County’s 53-45 win.

By John Henson, Managing Editor


LONDON — While the Harlan County Black Bears probably wouldn’t receive many style points for their 53-45 win Tuesday at South Laurel, on a night when both teams struggled offensively, coach Michael Jones wasn’t about to complain about any win over the Cardinals, one of the 13th Region’s top teams over the past decade and the state’s ninth-ranked team in the Herald-Leader.
“I told the kids after the game we’ll take an ugly win any time over a pretty loss,” Jones said. “There are a lot of things we need to correct. We work on them in practice, but for some reason we are losing focus defensively. I didn’t think we played that well on offense either, but to come down here and beat a quality team on their home floor when your two best players don’t play that well, we’ll take it.”
Harlan County (8-1) trailed only once all night, for about 16 seconds in the first quarter, even with standout freshman guard Trent Noah held without a basket in the first half.
“At the half, we had 16 points between Jackson (Huff) and Daniel (Carmical), and that was huge. We needed every one of them,” Jones said. “I’m glad Jackson came out of his shell tonight. Josh (Turner) was a man on the boards. We need some of the others to step up and help Josh and Trent on the boards. Josh is always in the right place doing his job. He’s the glue that holds this team together.”
Huff hit two 3-points and Carmical added one in the opening three minutes as the Bears grabbed an early 9-5 lead. Two baskets by England and one from Reed helped the Cardinals pull even at 12-12 by the end of the period.
Five straight points by Maddox Huff, beginning with a 3-pointer, extended the Harlan County leads from two to seven midway through the second quarter. Another Carmical trey pushed the lead to nine before a basket by Caden Jones cut the deficit to 28-21 at the break.
South missed its first six shots from the field in the third quarter as the Bears moved out to a nine-point lead with the help of two baskets by Noah. Two baskets by Eli Gover helped South cut the deficit to 35-30 going into the final period.
Two more baskets by Noah and one by Tyler Cole gave HCHS an 11-point lead with 6:48 left. South fought back to within five on a basket by Jones and a 3-pointer by Parker Payne. Jackson Huff came up with a momentum-breaking steal to start a 6-0 run to put the Bears back in control. South struggled down the stretch to get off shots against the Bears’ 2-3 zone with only two field goals in the final four minutes.
South (6-2) was led by Payne with 15 points.
Noah scored 16 to lead the 8-1 Bears. Jackson Huff added 10 points. Turner and Noah carried Harlan County on the boards with 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively.
Harlan County returns to action Friday at home against Middlesboro in a girls/boys district doubleheader. South Laurel travels to North Laurel on Friday.

Harlan County guard Trent Noah worked inside for two of his 16 points in Tuesday’s win at South Laurel. (Les Dixon)
Harlan County’s Maddox Huff contested a shot by South Laurel’s Ashton Garland in Tuesday’s game. Huff scored seven points in the Bears’ 53-45 victory. (Les Dixon)