Simmons leads Harlan County past Magoffin

Published 10:22 pm Saturday, December 16, 2017

PIKEVILLE — A steal and dunk Friday in a win over Harlan provided some evidence that Tyrese Simmons was close.

As he walked past a visitor Saturday at Pike Central, Simmons flashed his trademark grin and summed up his status in two words — “I’m back.”

Indeed, Simmons looked like his old self in sparking a Harlan County comeback during the Buffalo Wild Wings Shootout. Simmons spent much of the second half above the rim in a 25-point, 13-rebound performance that lifted the Bears to a 78-55 victory over Magoffin County. It was by far the best game so far this season for Simmons, a football standout who helped lead Harlan County to the 5A state semifinals, which meant a late start in basketball.

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“We started doing a better job of attacking the basket in the second half and Ty got going,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “He was real active. If he can do that and we get everybody on the same page like last night we’ll be all right. We have to play with emotion and energy the entire game without waiting until we get down.”

Playing the first game of the day starting before noon in a cold gym, the Bears started slow and trailed by three in the third quarter before Simmons and senior guard Andrew Creech, longtime teammates from their Cumberland days, sparked a 15-3 run that put the Bears back in control. Simmons hit four straight shots in the quarter while Creech and Drew Nolan added two each. The Bears hit nine of 15 shots in the period.

Harlan County was even better offensively in the fourth quarter, scoring 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting. Simmons had five baskets in the period, while Gabe Price came off the bench for three baskets and Alex Pace added a basket and 3-pointer.

Creech hit eight of 10 shots and finished with 16 points for the 7-0 Black Bears. Pace added 11 points.

Junior guard Brady Whitaker scored 26 points and freshman forward Logan Lovely added 12 for Magoffin County, which fell to 1-6.

After grabbing an early lead on baskets by Pace and Simmons, the Bears struggled offensively the remainder of the quarter with numerous missed layups. The teams traded baskets for much of the period with the lead changing hands eight times before Magoffin County went up 13-12 at the end of the period as Brady Whitaker and Chandler Lykins had back-to-back baskets.

Magoffin went over four minutes without a basket to start the second quarter with the Bears going on a 7-0 run behind Creech, Simmons and Taylor Spurlock. The Hornets fought back to pull even at 24 with a 7-2 run capped by a steal and layup from Whitaker. Spurlock hit a jumper to close the half and give the Bears a 26-24 lead at the break.

“We didn’t have energy today,” Jones said. “We talked about how they would respond coming off a rivalry game and I challenged them before the game, but they didn’t respond.”

Harlan County returns to action Thursday in a tournament at Gatlinburg, Tenn.


Harlan County 78, Magoffin County 55


Morgan Howard 1-5 1-5 3, Michael Conley 1-2 0-0 3, Brady Whitaker 10-15 3-7 26, Dylan Arnett 1-4 1-1 3, Logan Lovely 4-8 4-6 12, Chandler Lykins 2-2 0-0 4, Isaiah Salyer 0-2 0-0 0, Mason Lovely 1-1 0-0 2, Isaac Perkins 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson Salyer 0-0 1-2 1, Kaleb Wages 0-0 1-2 1, Trenton Caldwell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-39 11-19 55.


Andrew Creech 8-10 0-0 16, Drew Nolan 2-6 1-2 5, Alex Pace 4-9 2-4 11, Tyrese Simmons 11-20 3-3 25, Lamar Burkhart 0-0 2-2 2, Taylor Spurlock 3-5 3-4 9, Gabe Price 3-6 0-0 6, Patrick Bynum 0-2 0-0 0, Tyler Cole 0-1 2-2 2, Josh Turner 0-1 2-2 2, Kobe Burkhart 0-0 0-0 0, A.J. Simmons 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 31-60 15-19 78.

Magoffin County 13 11 17 14 — 55

Harlan County 12 14 21 31 — 78

3-point goals: Magoffin County 4-12 (Whitaker 3-5, Conley 1-2, Arnett 0-1, Howard 0-2, I. Salyer 0-2), Harlan County 1-8 (Pace 1-4, Price 0-2, Simmons 0-1, Spurlock 0-1). Rebounds: Magoffin County 13 (Arnett 5, L. Lovely 2, Howard 1, Whitaker 1, Lykins 1, I. Salyer 1, M. Lovely 1, J. Salyer 1), Harlan County 33 (Simmons 13, Pace 4, Creech 3, Spurlock 3, Nolan 2, Price 2, Bynum 2, L. Burkhart 1, Cole 1, Turner 1, K. Burkhart 1). Turnovers: Magoffin County 22, Harlan County 11. Fouled out: Harlan County (Creech).