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Bears roll into finals of tourney

GATLINBURG — The Harlan County Black Bears advanced to the championship round of the Smoky Mountain Christmas Classic with a convincing 76-48 victory over Travelers Rest, S.C. on Friday morning at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School.

The Bears continued their strong play on defense with a mix of hustle and effort that started in the first round of the tournament play with a victory over East Hickman, Tenn. This time though the offense had a big game as well. The Bears shot 25 of 48 from the field for an impressive 52 percent.

Harlan County coach Michael Jones was pleased with the overall performance.

“We kind of struggled to open the game with some turnovers that kept the game close early. Once we settled down, we got some shots to fall,” he said. “Defensively, we were really pleased with the emotion and effort we had all game. We did some really good things on both ends of the floor.”

Harlan County (9-0) were led in scoring by senior guard Drew Nolan’s 21 points. Senior forwards Lamar Burkhart and Tyrese Simmons added 13 points each.

Travelers Rest (9-3) was led by Case Roach with 12 points. Graham Burton added 10.

In the first quarter, the Bears struggled with some early turnovers but were able to regroup behind Nolan’s five points to take an early lead 13-6.

The second quarter, though, the Bears got on track on both ends of the court, outscoring the Devil Dogs 27-18 to take a solid 40-24 lead into the locker room. Nolan continued his hot shooting, scoring 10 points in the period. Sophomore guard Taylor Spurlock added six points in the quarter as well, connecting on two 3s. Seven Bears added points in the period.

The third quarter also belonged to Harlan County as the Bears won the period 12-8. Simmons had back to back baskets in the paint to help the Bears take a 52-32 advantage into the final quarter. Simmons also led the Bears with seven rebounds as part of the Bears’ 36-rebound night.

Harlan County closed the game by winning the fourth quarter 22-16. Burkhart led the team with six points in the period. Simmons followed closely behind with five.

The Bears also got a big lift off of their bench. Spurlock had five rebounds to go along with his eight points. Junior guard Gabe Price contributed six points and six rebounds. Patrick Bynum, also a junior, had four points and four rebounds.

Harlan County moves into the finals of the tournament Saturday afternoon and will face Louisville Pleasure Ridge Park at 4 p.m.

— — —

Harlan County 76, Travelers Rest, S.C. 48

Harlan County (9-0)

Andrew Creech 0-1 5-6 5, Drew Nolan 7-12 5-9 21, Ty Simmons 6-9 1-2 13, Alex Pace 0-6 3-6 3, Lamar Burkhart 4-7 3-3 13, Gabe Price 3-5 0-0 6, Patrick Bynum 1-2 2-2 4, Taylor Spurlock 3-4 0-0 8, Tyler Cole 1-2 0-0 3, A.J. Simmons 0-0 0-0 0, Josh Turner 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-48 19-28 76.

Travelers Rest, S.C. (9-3)

Luke Satterfield 0, Sam Brown 3, Case Roach 12, Derrick Fields 8, Graham Burton 10, Will Satterfield 5, Deonte Byrd 0, Dylan Mathis 2, Esisas Tucker 3, Joel Burgess 2, Sam Crain 2. Totals: 48.

Harlan County — 13 27 12 22 — 76

Travelers Rest — 6 18 8 16 — 48

3-point goals: Harlan County 7-16 (Spurlock 2-3, Burkhart 2-4, Nolan 2-5, Cole 1-2, Pace 0-2). Rebounds: harlan County 36 (T. Simmons 7, Price 6, Spurlock 5, Pace 4, Burkhart 4, Creech 3, Nolan 2, Cole 1)