Black Bears steamroll to Pine Mountain Golf Conference title


The Harlan County High School golf team won the Pine Mountain Golf Conference title with a 325 on Wednesday, 50 strokes ahead of Bell County. Team members, pictured with coach Greg Lewis, are Matt Lewis, Brayden Casolari, Cole Cornett and Alex Creech.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

The Harlan County High School golf team completed a dominating season in the Pine Mountain Golf Conference by winning the two-day league tournament at the Wasioto Winds Golf Course in Pineville on Wednesday by a 50-stroke margin over its nearest competitor.
The Black Bears claimed three of the top four spots and finished with a team total of 325. Bell County was second at 375 in the six-team tournament.
“I cannot say how proud I am of this team. We felt like we should have won this last year but came up a bit short. This win was a year in the making,” Harlan County coach Greg Lewis said. “These guys came off the course last year and told me they were not coming up short again. And they completely dominated this tournament winning by an incredible 50 shots. These young men have put together a completely dominant conference season. A 10-shot win in golf is a huge victory, but these guys have been winning matches by 30 shots and 50 tonight. This is a performance that I don’t think will ever be matched.”
Freshman Brayden Casolari won all but one league tournament this year and won again on Wednesday with a 73, two strokes ahead of eighth-grader Cole Cornett.
“Brayden has had a dominant season winning five times in conference. He and Cole battled hard these last two days and Brayden got him by a few shots. These two fighting down the stretch for a tournament win is going to be a common thing over the next few years,” Lewis said. “Cole struck the ball well enough to win this tournament, but his putter wasn’t as hot as it has been at times this year. Brayden just made a few more putts than he did.”
Aiden Johnson led Harlan as he finished third with an 84.
“Aiden has put the work in to really step up his game. That practice has resulted in him scoring three to four strokes better than last year,” Harlan coach Jeremy Lee said. “Aiden is very good at playing his game and not worrying about what’s going on around him. I expect him to have a strong showing in the region.”
HCHS sophomore Alex Creech tied with Bell County’s Brayden Saylor for third with an 84.
“Alex had another great tournament. His ball striking had improved so much this season. But more than anything, he’s really playing smart golf. He’s well deserving of the fourth-place finish tonight,” Lewis said.
Matt Lewis, a senior, rounded out the Harlan County contingent with a 92.
“Matt was coming into his final conference match at his home course and just pressed a bit. He has played so well all season he just let the emotion of the event make him press more than he normally does. But even with that, he finished with another top 10 finish,” Lewis said. “There have been some great golf teams in Harlan County history, but I’d put these guys up against anybody. This season, Brayden was the conference player of the year and Matt, Cole and Alex were all first-team all-conference. We had four of the top six point earners on the season.”
Kevin Thomas Lee was next for Harlan with a 122, followed by Carson Osborne with a 125 and Caiden Jackson with a 127.
Harlan County will return to action Sunday at the Harlan-Bell Farm Bureau Invitational in Pineville. The regional tournament is set for Sept. 19 in Somerset.