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Bears bury Cumberland Gap with second-half surge

With their fifth straight winning season clinched following a 71-28 rout of visiting Cumberland Gap, Tenn., on Saturday, the Harlan County Black Bears are looking to the postseason and what needs to be done to be at their best when it counts most.

One of the goals for coach Michael Jones has been to find a third consistent scorer behind Alex Pace and Taylor Spurlock. Sophomore wing Tyler Cole has made a good case for himself of late, including a 19-point, 10-rebound night against Cumberland Gap.

“Tyler has played well since we went to Gatlinburg,” Jones said. “I was proud of his effort tonight.”

Senior guard Gabe Price and Spurlock added 12 each for the Bears. HCHS played without Pace, who missed the game due to illness.

Evan Jackson scored nine points to lead the 5-10 Panthers.

Harlan County scored the game’s first eight points, led by Cole, but couldn’t put the Panthers away. Cumberland Gap cut the deficit to 12-9 by the end of the period as Jake Templin scored twice. Josh Turner had two baskets for the Bears, coming on assists from Elisha Smallwood and James Smith.

Harlan County was up by six late in the second quarter before closing with a 7-0 run on free throws by Price, Smallwood and Cole to build a 32-19 advantage. Cumberland Gap missed the front of end of the bonus three times in the final two minutes of the half.

The Bears opened the third quarter with a 13-0 run to put the game away. Price, Spurlock, Cole and Smith each had baskets in the run. Cumberland Gap missed eight of nine shots in the period as the HCHS lead grew to 59-23.

Harlan County hit five of six shots in the fourth quarter, led by three baskets from Jackson Huff. Jayden Ward added a basket and three rebounds in the period.

The Bears shot 78 percent (14 of 18) from the field in the second half, while Cumberland Gap shot 15 percent (three of 20).

“For the most part, we played better the second half. We had to make some adjustments on offense because their pressure was bothering us,” Jones said. “We have to do a better of handling pressure and be where we’re supposed to be. We have to improve on our rotations and that’s someting we’ll fix.”

The Bears return to action Tuesday at home against Red Bird in a 7:30 p.m. game. The Lady Bears will play Knox Central at 6 p.m.

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Freshman guard Jackson Huff hit eight 3-pointers in a 32-point explosion as the Bears improved to 6-3 in junior varsity action with a 45-36 victory.

Alex Nantz added seven points, followed by James Gray with five and Jayden Ward with one.

Clint Crockett led Cumberland Gap with 15 points.

———

Harlan County 71, Cumberland Gap 28

CUMBERLAND GAP (5-10)

Evan Jackson 3-10 0-0 9, Nate Fuson 1-4 0-2 2, Caden Brunsma 0-2 2-4 2, Miles Cole 1-2 0-2 2, Jake Templin 4-8 0-1 8, Dalton Miracle 0-1 0-0 0, Alex Blevins 0-50-0 0, Trey Turner 0-2 0-0 0, Jason Shertz 1-5 3-4 5, Colby Bean 0-2 0-0 0, Elijah Lawson 0-1 0-2 0, Clint Crockett 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 10-43 5-14 28.

HARLAN COUNTY (15-5)

James Smith 2-6 0-0 6, Taylor Spurlock 4-10 4-4 12, Patrick Bynum 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler Cole 5-7 9-11 19, Gabe Price 4-7 3-3 12, Josh Turner 3-3 0-0 6, Elisha Smallwood 1-2 2-4 4, Jackson Huff 3-4 3-4 9, Jayden Ward 1-1 0-2 2, Alex Nantz 0-0 0-0 0, James Gray 0-0 0-0 0, Adam Boggs 0-0 0-0 0, Braden Cox 0-0 0-0 0, Dawson Atkins 0-1 1-2 1. Totals: 23-41 22-30 71.

Cumberland Gap 9 10 3 6 — 28

Harlan County 12 20 27 12 — 71

3-point goals: Cumberland Gap 3-15 (Jackson 3-9, Fuson 0-1, Cole 0-1, Blevins 0-1, Bean 0-1, Brunsma 0-2), Harlan County 3-13 (Smith 2-6, Price 1-1, Cole 0-1, Huff 0-1, Atkins 0-1, Spurlock 0-3). Rebounds: Cumberland Gap 18 (Brunsma 4, Miracle 3, Blevins 3, Templin 2, Turner 2, Shertz 2, Jackson 1, Cole 1), Harlan County 33 (Cole 10, Price 6, Turner 6, Smallwood 6, Smith 5, Spurlock 5, Ward 3, Huff 2, Gray 1, Boggs 1). Turnovers: Cumberland Gap 14, Harlan County 16. Fouled out: Cumberland Gap (Cole).