Bears fall in final four of tourney

Published 2:05 pm Monday, June 18, 2018

LEXINGTON — Harlan County’s deepest run in school history at the Kentucky Basketball Academy State Tournament ended in the semifinals with a 79-59 loss to Scott County (Red) on Sunday at Frederick Douglass High School, stopping a streak of four straight wins during pool play and tournament competition.

Scott County will likely be ranked No. 1 in the state when the season begins with four starters back from a state runner-up team. HCHS beat Scott County (Blue) earlier in the tournament, but the Red team featured most of Scott’s top players, except for star forward Michael Moreno, who was playing AAU basketball.

Harlan County led by two after one quarter and trailed by two at halftime. Scott started to pull away late in the third quarter.

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Senior guard Alex Pace led the Bears with 18 points. Jacob Wilson and Tyler Cole added 11 and 10 points, respectively. Patrick Bynum chipped in with nine, followed by Gabe Price with six, Taylor Spurlock with three and Josh Turner with two.

Harlan County received a bye in tournament play after going 3-0 to win its pool, then defeated Dunbar 58-40 in the quarterfinals. Pace scored 13 for the Bears, followed by Wilson and Spurlock with 11 each. James Smith and Turner added seven each. Cole and Price scored four each.

The Bears finished the summer with a 17-7 record.

“Going into the summer we knew things would be challenging with the inexperience we have and putting in an entirely different offense,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “We did some good things, but we also have a lot of room for improvement. To finish the summer in the final four of the KBA State Tournament is definitely something to build on.”


Harlan County won the first two games of pool competition in the junior varsity division before falling 40-28 to Johnson Central in the final scrimmage.

Hunter Helton, a sophomore center, led the Bears with 12 points. Josh Turner scored six. Alex Nantz and Jayden Ward scored four each. Braden Cox added two.

Harlan County defeated Louisville Western by forfeit in the first round of tournament play before falling 55-33 to George Rogers Clark in the second round.

The Bears finished the summer with a 10-11 junior varsity record.


Summer play has concluded for both boys teams in the county, but the Harlan and HCHS girls will close the summer with the Knott Central Team Camp on Thursday. The dead period begins this weekend for all Kentucky high school sports programs.