Knox edges HCHS by one stroke in Barbourville tourney


Harlan County seventh-grader Cole Cornett, pictured in action earlier this season, tied for third in a tournament Thursday at the Indian Springs course in Barbourville.

Knox Central edged Harlan County by one stroke, 169-168, in a tournament Thursday at the Indian Springs course in Barbourville. Middlesboro was third with a 171 and Bell County was fourth at 197.
“The top two guys tonight were both on their home course and they took advantage of the home course knowledge. This isn’t a course that really fits my guys’ eyes well, but with all that we finished second by just one shot,” Harlan County coach Greg Lewis said. “I can handle if someone outplays us and we just get beat, but tonight we beat ourselves with some uncharacteristic bad decision making. We tried to make the hero shot a couple times and ended up making some big numbers. We can win with bogies but we simply have to eliminate the big numbers off our scorecards.”
Knox Central’s Alex Smith was the individual winner with a 37, two strokes ahead of teammate Grant Miller. Harlan County’s Braydon Casolari and Cole Cornett tied with Middlesboro’s Nick Cox for third at 43. Harlan County’s Matt Lewis was sixth at 42 and Alex Creech shot a 45. Evan Simpson finished with a 53 for the Bears.
“All of my guys are striking the ball incredibly well. We just aren’t scoring well enough at the moment. We did have a storm stoppage and the event ended where we were at that point. We just have to be a little sharper when we get scoring opportunities and eliminate the big numbers,” Lewis said. “I think this was a good lesson for us. My guys are understanding how important one shot per person can be. Hopefully, when we get out there Tuesday at Wasioto I’ll see some smarter golf. We are starting to play a little longer course getting ready for the conference championship and the regional tournament, so this is normally where we start seeing some separation between the teams and players. I think my guys are ready to hit their stride and end the season with our best golf.”
Harlan’s Aiden Johnson placed fourth in the tournament with a 43. Kevin Thomas Lee finished with a 55.
“Aiden is playing very consistently. His putting has greatly improved to where he is one and two putting nearly every green. Once he gets more accurate from 120 yards and in, I expect his scores to be under 40,” Harlan coach Jeremy Lee said. “Kevin Thomas is working on some new techniques with his irons that are increasing his accuracy and ball striking. Once he gets more consistent with his irons, his confidence will increase and his scores will drop. He is solid on the greens, usually no more than two-putting.”