Eagles hold off Harlan County’s comeback bid, hang on for road win

By John Henson, Managing Editor



Winning against quality out-of-region competition on the road has been an elusive goal for Madison Southern in Austin Newtown’s four-year tenure as coach, which may explain why Newton was feeling especially good after his Eagles held on for a 60-58 win Friday at Harlan County.
“We’ve been in a lot of games against really good teams and we haven’t been able to finish,” Newton said. “I know they were down a couple of guys but I told our guys if you can come to Harlan County and get a win it’s huge for us. This gives our guys a lot of confidence
Madison Southern led most of the way against the short-handed Bears, who were playing without starters Maddox Huff and Jonah Swanner, but watched the Bears wipe out a 10-point deficit in the final four minutes to pull even at 58 on Jackson Huff’s 3-pointer with 23 seconds left. Senior center Nate Turner scored the winning basket on a drive with 4.9 seconds left. Harlan County’s Trent Noah had a chance at the buzzer, but his 40-foot jumper went off the front of the rim.
“I told the kids two things before I left the locker room, that I was proud of them for battling back when they could have laid down and I didn’t want any excuses for people being out,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “We have others on this team who earned their spot and they have to be able to perform when someone is out. I was disappointed at halftime that some of our kids weren’t taking advantage of an opportunity. We’ll learn from it. They have a nice ball club and Rose is a good player we had a hard time defending. They also had two big kids that were a mismatch for us.”
Sophomore guard Jay Rose scored 31 points to lead the 12-6 Eagles. Turner added 12 points and seven rebounds.
“Jay is our leading scorer and he played well for us. He made a big 3 on an out-of-bounds play that was huge for us,” Newton said.
Noah scored 24 to lead the 14-5 Bears. Daniel Carmical and Jackson Huff added 15 and nine points, respectively
The Eagles focused most of their defensive efforts on Noah, a standout sophomore guard who set a school record a night earlier with 44 points in a win over Letcher Central.
“We wanted to guard them man-to-man, but he made the first shot of the game and we knew how important he is to their team, so we went box-and-one for 95 percent of the game,” Newton said. “He’s that important. We knew they were missing a couple of key guys, so we thought if we could keep him under 45, or whatever, we’d have a chance to win the game. Braden Hudson did a really good job on him.”
Carmical and Huff sparked a 10-2 rally after both had slow starts on offense. Noah’s jumper with 1:33 pulled the Bears within two, then HCHS had a chance to pull even after Madison Southern’s Hudson was assessed a technical. Noah hit one of two at the line to cut the deficit to one, then Carmical missed a 3 that would have put the Bears on top. Rose hit two free throws for a three-point lead with 35 seconds left before Huff tied it with his 3.
“They both shot it well the fourth quarter,” Jones said of Huff and Carmical. “We had a lot of great looks earlier in the game on shots we normally make. If we hit those shots, it’s a different game.”
Harlan County (14-5) will play its fourth game this week on Saturday, taking on Cordia at 5 p.m.
“This should make us better for the push to the district tournament,” Jones said. “We’ll be in a game where we have to play some people who don’t normally play a lot. This will give us some experience and make us better in the long run.”