Bobcats continue revenge tour with 22-point win over visiting Harlan


John Henson

Harlan forward Jaedyn Gist looked for an opening during Tuesday’s game at Bell County. Gist was limited to nine points in a 67-45 loss.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Like the 98-pound weakling on the beach in the 1960s Charles Atlas bodybuilding ad, the Bell County Bobcats took their share of sand in the face the past two years, especially against district rivals like Harlan County and Harlan.
The Bobcats gained some revenge against the Bears earlier in the season with a win at Log Mountain, then took out their frustrations on the Green Dragons on Tuesday in a surprisingly convincing 67-45 victory. Bell scored the first nine points and was in control all the way in improving its district mark to 3-1.
“We have a group of seniors who have been kicked in the face enough over the last two years. I just feel like they are on a mission to do something,” Bell County coach Brad Sizemore said. “They are coming in every day working tremendously hard, and they have a lot of confidence they can play against these better teams. We threw four sophomores out there two years ago and they had to learn the hard way. I just think we’re figuring out how to win these big games instead of losing them.”
Bell County placed four in double figures, led by senior forward Cameron Burnett with 19 points. Dawson Woolum scored 16, followed by Hayden Callebs with 15 and Dalton Stepp with 14. The Bobcats took their time on offense and found success off the dribble, either scoring or drawing fouls. Bell hit 27 of 39 from the free-throw line.
The Bobcats were also solid on defense, limiting Harlan star Jordan Akal to 11 points while holding all the other Harlan starters to single digits.
“I think we have a good team and play really well when we focus on what we need to focus on,” Sizemore said. “We got into every game trying to take the other team’s best players away. We’ve been doing that all year and we’re getting good at it. We’re not perfect, but our kids have stepped up and met the challenge no matter who we’ve asked to guard who. It showed tonight. We bothered them with our defense, guarding the 3-point line. We take what’s there on offense. I was really proud of how hard we played.”
The Dragons, who fell to 13-7 overall and 1-2 in district action, lost four players to fouls in the fourth quarter. Harlan hit only one of 11 from behind the 3-point line.
“It was a physical football game and I have basketball players trying to win at a freaking football game,” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal, who was not happy with officiating throughout the game. “It was definitely difficult, but Brad (Sizemore) does a good job.”
Harlan will play Campbellsville on Thursday in the first round of the state All “A” Classic at Eastern Kentucky University. Bell County returns to action Friday at home against Leslie County.