‘Bang, bang, bang’…Bears shoot down Rock in Ted Cook Classic

By John Henson, Managing Editor


LONDON — Back in the game after cutting a 14-point deficit to six as the final seconds ticked away in the third quarter, the Rockcastle County Rockets watched their chances slip away Saturday during four trips down the court.
“We cut it to six, then they made a 3, then came out the fourth and bang, bang, bang,” Rockcastle County coach Andrew Cash said of his Rockets’ 78-55 loss Saturday to Harlan County in the 13th Region Media Network’s Ted Cook Classic at South Laurel High School. “Then you’re down 18 and it takes the wind out of your sails after you dig and claw and fight to get back in it. We knew coming in they could shoot it deep.”
Shooting it deep is just what the Bears do well and what they did Saturday to improve to 2-0 on the young season. Trent Noah ended Rockcastle’s run with a 3 to end the third quarter, then started the fourth period with another. Daniel Carmical followed with back-to-back treys as the Bears regained control.
The Bears hit 15 of 36 from behind the 3-point line on the night, led by Carmical with six in his 18-point effort and Noah with five as he led HCHS with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Jonah Swanner added 11 points and sparked another strong effort by the Harlan County defense. Maddox Huff chipped in with 10 points.
“We shot it well in spurts, but I still think we settled too much at times,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “We’ll always take what the defense is giving us and it was good to see a 2-3 zone. Trent and Daniel hit some big ones when they made their run. It makes us hard to press when we do a good job dribbling up the floor because you have to honor Daniel and Jackson (Huff) on the corners. What I liked most about Daniel tonight was his energy on the defensive end.”
“We saw then this summer, but they didn’t have Noah,” Cash said. “What makes him so tough is his size and his ability to step out and shoot. He’s really worked on his range and he’s gotten better from when I saw him earlier in his career. He’s going to be nice player the next couple of years and someone is going to get lucky to get him at the next level.”
Rockcastle County, ranked fifth in the 12th Region in the preseason with an all-senior starting lineup, was led by Daniel Mullins and Jake Sanders with 16 points each and Drew Hopkins with 14.
Maddox Huff and Jackson Huff each hit 3-pointers on the Bears’ first two possessions as HCHS grabbed an early 6-0 lead. The lead grew to nine thanks to Swanner’s efforts on the defensive end, leading to a layup and two free throws.
“Jonah is so active defensively and does a great job of setting people up,” Jones said. “If we can get everyone in the right position on defense like he Is we’ll be OK.”
Rockcastle fought back to within three late in the quarter as Sanders, Rockcastle’s 6-6, 285-pound center, had two buckets and five rebounds in the period. A Carmical trey extended the Bears’ advantage to 22-16 going into the second period.
HCHS took its biggest lead of the half at 34-21 on five straight points by Noah, including a 3 followed by a steal and dunk. Mullins scored the final five points of the half as the Rockets pulled within eight, at 34-26, by halftime.
The Bears hit 10 of 13 shots in outscoring Rockcastle County 30-16 in the fourth quarter. Carmical hit all three of his 3-pointers in the period, part of a six-of-eight effort by HC as a team.
Harlan County will play host to Corbin on Monday in a clash of two of the 13th Region’s top teams.