Harris leads Jackets to win in conference match at Middlesboro

Black Bears place three in top six


Harlan County’s Matt Lewis finished fifth in a tournament Thursday at the Middlesboro Country Club.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Cole Cornett, of Harlan County, placed sixth on Thursday in a tournament at Middlesboro.

Two days after losing in a two-hole playoff to Harlan County’s Brayden Casolari in the first Pine Mountain Golf Conference match of the season Tuesday at Pineville, Middlesboro’s Tyler Harris bounced back Thursday with a three-stroke win over Casolari at the Middlesboro Country Club.
Harris shot a one-under par 35 to help the Jackets win the team title with a 164. Harlan County was second with a 175, followed by Knox Central with 184 and Bell County with 206.
“I’m very excited about the progress of my team. We are hitting the ball extremely well. We just aren’t getting the scores out of the quality ball striking we have,” Harlan County coach Greg Lewis said. “After not having a team for so long, I’m very happy with where we are, especially being so young. When these guys get completely comfortable with the formats and situations of the matches, I really like our chances.”
Casolari tied with Knox Central’s Bryce Imel for second in the individual competiton with a two-over par 38.
“Brayden played really well again,” Lewis said. “He missed a short putt and had one hole where he was blocked by a tree on his second shot that led to a bogey. More than anything, I’ve been impressed with the improvement in his course management from last season. He’s really playing aggressive where he can and smart where he needs to.”
Harlan County’s Matt Lewis and Cole Cornett finished fifth and sixth, respectively, as Lewis shot a 42 and Cornett came in with a 43.
“Matt again did not score as well as he struck the ball. He had a couple bad breaks on two holes which cost him a chance to win this match. His game is much better than it’s ever been. All parts of his game is getting better and better. I really look for Matt to put up some low numbers very soon,” Lewis said. “Cole again really impressed me. He’s one of those guys that doesn’t do one thing exceptionally well, but he does everything well. He’s a really well rounded player. Like Matt, I really look for him to put up some low numbers very soon. The exciting thing for me about Cole is he’s just a seventh-grader. He’s going to be a force to recon with out here for a long time.”
Ethan Simpson shot a 52 for the Bears, and Evan Simpson shot a 59.
“Ethan and Evan played very well tonight. They both improved their scores by several shots from our first match. Everything they do is new so being able to play while trying to learn the ins and outs of tournament golf is not easy to do. By the time we get to conference play, I think both of them will really help our team,” Lewis said.
Harlan County will return to action Tuesday with a conference meet at the Wasioto Winds course in Pineville.
“Obviously, we want to win every time out, but we are making steady improvements each time we play,” Lewis said. “We are striking the ball very well. We are just not scoring as well as we should at times but that will come. Tonight, we just didn’t adjust to the slower, bumpy greens at MCC. I love my team and by the time the conference tournament rolls around will will be ready.” Harlan was represented by sophomores Aiden Johnson, who shot a 44, and Kevin Thomas Lee, who shot a 61.
“Aiden played very well. He was very accurate off the tee and, except for two holes, putted very well. I expect Aiden’s scores to continue to fall as we progress through the season,” Harlan coach Jeremy Lee said. “Kevin Thomas has all the tools to be a solid golfer. Golf is as much a mental game as it is physical and right now Kevin Thomas just needs a few shots to go his way to get his confidence up.”