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Black Bears bounce back with rout of Leslie

HYDEN — With his Black Bears riding a two-game losing streak coming into the Hyden Citizens Bank Classic on Friday, Harlan County coach Michael Jones was looking for improved intensity. The Bears delivered from the start, racing to an 8-0 lead on the way to a 78-43 win.

“We adjusted our defense some because we were getting hurt to much on the 3, but the only other thing we really talked about in practice was how much energy and effort we were going to give,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “I thought they did a really good job of that tonight.”

The Bears shot 60 percent from the field though the first three quarters and had only four turnovers before turning the game over to their reserves in the final period. HCHS won easily despite playing without two starters as senior Taylor Spurlock was out for precautionary reasons due to a sore ankle and sophomore Jackson Huff was home with the flu. Junior guard Tyler Cole and senior forward Jacob Wilson helped fill the void by leading the Bears with 19 and 17 points, respectively.

“When you’re down two starters you have to have someone step up and those two did that, especially on offense,” Jones said. “What I liked most about how we played today was that we attacked the basket. We put it on the floor and made them guard our dribble and that opened up the perimeter.”

Cole had three early baskets as the Bears took a 12-1 lead before Leslie hit a shot from the field. Wilson and Trent Noah, who added 11 points, each had 3-pointers for a 20-7 lead after one quarter.

A three-point play by Cole and 3-pointer by Wilson pushed the lead to 20 early in the second period. Noah and Josh Turner had baskets late in the half as the Bears took a 40-17 advantage into halftime.

Harlan County’s lead grew to 30, at 61-31, by the end of the third quarter. Freshman guards Daniel Carmical and Jonah Swanner helped spark a 10-2 run to close the half. Tristan Cooper, Jeremiah Clem and Josh Sergent scored in the fourth quarter to give HCHS five freshmen with points in the game.

“That’s a talented group. They just need a little more confidence,” Jones said. “I told them during a timeout that they have to play like it’s a JV game and not worry about making mistakes, because that’s when you make mistakes. When those kids learn to do that they will help us during the year, even in close games.”

Wyatt Hensley and Trent Day each scored 13 points to lead the 1-8 Eagles.

“We weren’t ready to play. Half our guys looked like they weren’t here,” Leslie County coach Tim Rice said. “We didn’t execute our press offense. We didn’t execute our zone offense. We weren’t ready defensively. The (Elisha) Smallwood kid pushed us all over the place and sealed us. You can’t get hit one with one screen and just stop moving, and we did that all night long. Harlan County is a good team, and they were without two guys. But they shot it well and those shots are easier to make when you jump out to a 10-point lead to start the game.”

Harlan County (6-4) will play East Ridge on Saturday at 2 p.m. in tournament action.

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Harlan County 78, Leslie County 43

HARLAN COUNTY (6-4)

Trent Noah 4-5 2-2 11, Tyler Cole 6-10 7-9 19, Jacob Wilson 6-11 1-2 17, Josh Turner 2-4 0-0 4, Elisha Smallwood 1-2 0-0 2, Jonah Swanner 2-3 3-5 7, Daniel Carmical 3-7 0-0 8, Hunter Helton 0-0 1-2 1, Jeremiah Clem 1-2 0-0 3, Tristan Cooper 0-0 1-2 1, James Gray 0-1 0-0 0, Alex Nantz 1-1 0-0 2, Josh Sergent 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 27-46 15-22 78.

LESLIE COUNTY (1-8)

Wyatt Hensley 4-8 3-4 13, Trent Day 4-13 4-5 13, John Buckle 0-0 0-0 0, Trent Asher 2-3 0-2 4, Trey Abner 3-5 1-2 7, Derek Baker 0-1 0-0 0, Jason Baker 3-8 0-0 6, Colton Hensley 0-0 0-0 0, John Hoskins 0-0 0-0 0, Zach Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Nick Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Hacker 0-0 0-0 0, Cameron Bradford 0-0 0-0 0, Christian Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Dylan Baker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-38 8-13 43.

Harlan County 20 20 21 17 — 78

Leslie County 7 10 14 12 — 43

3-point goals: Harlan County 9-16 (Wilson 4-6, Carmical 2-5, Clem 1-1, Sergent 1-1, Noah 1-2, Cole 0-1), Leslie County 3-13 (Hensley 2-6, Day 1-6, D. Baker 0-1). Rebounds: Harlan County 26 (Noah 7, Wilson 6, Turner 4, Cole 2, Smallwood 2, Swanner 1, Carmical 1, Helton 1, Cooper 1, Nantz 1), Leslie County 15 (J. Baker 5, Asher 3, Day 2, Hensley 1, Abner 1, D. Baker 1, Hoskins 1, N. Lewis 1). Turnovers: Harlan County 8, Leslie County 18. Fouled out: Leslie County (Day).