Purple Devils cap perfect season with county title


Kim Henson

The Wallins Purple Devils completed a perfect season and won the county championship in the seventh- and eighth-grade division by defeating Rosspoint 64-60 on Tuesday at Harlan County High School. Team members include, from left, coach Robert Simpson, Keaton Simpson, Ethan Simpson, Hunter Napier, Evan Simpson, Trenton Cole, Connor Daniels, Tatten Rice, coach Johnny Murphy, Travis Burkhart, Aaron Johnson and coach Robert Simpson.

A five-year quest for a championship ended in success Tuesday as Wallins completed a perfect 12-0 season with a 64-60 win over Rosspoint in the seventh- and eighth-grade county championship game at Harlan County High School.
“I’m proud of all of our kids. They’ve worked hard and put a lot of time in to do this. This has been their goal since they were fourth-graders,” Wallins coach Robert Simpson said. “I’m glad we got this season in and am thrilled for them. They’ve earned this. It’s a little extra special for me with my two boys as eighth-graders to get this one.”
Connor Daniels led the balanced Wallins attack with 20 points. Ethan Simpson added 16, followed by Hunter Napier with 14 points and Trenton Cole with 10.
“All year long we’ve had different kids step up each night,” Simpson said. “They wanted to take away Ethan and Trenton tonight so they left Connor and Hunter a little more free. We used Evan (Simpson) to do more ball handling than he usually does. Connor was struggling to get his shots to fall early, but just kept digging and had a strong game for us. Hunter has been huge for us this second half of the season. At the end of the game, once they had to go man, Trenton was able to drive and get some big baskets for us. Ethan hit some big shots and free throws as well.
“This game was just a reflection of our season—when one of our kids has struggled, another one has stepped up each night. Tonight was a true team effort to overcome some adversity. We battled foul trouble all night. Ethan had two in the first 27 seconds of the game and three with two minutes to go in the first quarter. We stuck with him and he was able to play the rest of the game. It limited him defensively, but all of our kids have a lot of experience and are able to play through those situations. Travis (Burkhart) was able to come in a give us good minutes when Hunter had to come out with foul trouble as well.”
Luke Kelly poured in 21 points to lead the 8-5 Wildcats. Brody Napier added 19.
“I felt like we were a little tight coming out of the gate,” Simpson said. “Our boys seemed to be feeling the pressure at the start, but they settled down pretty quickly and responded well. Rosspoint is a strong team and (Rosspoint coach) Hobie (Boggs) does a great job with them. They’re always ready to play in these big games, so we knew it would be a challenge.”
James A. Cawood edged Evarts 46-43 to capture third place.
Jaycee Carter scored 18 to lead the 7-5 Trojans. Terry Delaney added 12 points.
Ashton Sizemore paced Evarts with 19 points. Aidan Reynolds scored 12 for the 7-5 Wildcats.
Wallins (64) — Connor Daniels 20, Ethan Simpson 16, Hunter Napier 14, Trenton Cole 10, Evan Simpson 4.
Rosspoint (60) — Luke Kelly 21, Brody Napier 19, Jayce Brown 8, Brody Branson 6, Blake Hensley 6.
James A. Cawood (46) — Jaycee Carter 18, Terry Michael Delaney 12, Kaden Jones 9, Brennan Blevins 5, Luke Heflin 2.
Evarts (43) — Ashton Sizemore 19, Aiden Reynolds 12, Ben Coleman 8, Brady Freeman 3, Jamison Wilkinson 1.