Bears edge North in summer hoops thriller

By John Henson, Managing Editor

BARBOURVILLE — Facing the 13th Region’s top two teams from last season and the probable favorites in 2022, the Harlan County Black Bears won a thriller against North Laurel and were no match for Knox Central in the nightcap as their summer record moved to 7-5 heading into the KBA state tournament starting Friday in Lexington.
Harlan County jumped out to a 7-0 lead against North and extended the advantage to 23-10 with the help of four 3-pointers from senior guard Jackson Huff. The Bears hit 10 3s in the first half, led by four from Jackson Huff and two each from Maddox Huff, Daniel Carmical and Jeremiah Clem, for a 41-28 halftime lead.
The HCHS lead grew to 16 early in the second half before the Bears went cold and North stormed back behind all-staters Reed Sheppard. The Jaguars built a three-point lead in the final minute before Maddox Huff forced overtime with a long 3 in the closing seconds.
Maddox Huff hit two free throws with 3.6 seconds left in the one-minute overtime to give the Bears a 60-58 win. Jackson Huff scored 20, followed by Maddox Huff with 18, Daniel Carmical with 10, Clem with eight and Jonah Swanner and Jared Rhymer with two each.
Both teams were without standout players as both Harlan County’s Trent Noah and North’s Ryan Davidson were sidelined by injuries.
Harlan County fell behind Knox Central soon after the win over North and coach Michael Jones went to his reserves to finish out the scrimmage as the Panthers coasted to a 71-17 victory. Connor Daniels, Brody Napier and Hunter Napier each scored four to lead the Bears. Carmical tossed in three and Swanner added one.
Harlan County fell 53-26 to North Laurel in junior varsity action. Brody Napier led the Bears with 13 points, followed by Jaycee Carter with six, Hunter Napier with five and Taelor Haywood with two.