Black Bears knock off 7th ranked Woodford County in Raymond Reed Classic

Published 3:14 pm Monday, January 15, 2024

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By John Henson

Contributing Sports Writer

After a blowout 39-point win a night earlier at home against Middlesboro, the Harlan County Black Bears found a tougher test Saturday in the Raymond Reed Classic at South Laurel against defending 8th Region champ Woodford County

The Black Bears never trailed after midway through the first quarter against the state’s seventh-ranked squad, but the Yellow Jackets cut an eight-point HCHS lead to three in 43 seconds. Senior guard Trent Noah took over at that point, hitting a floater in the lane and then cashing in on two free throws in each of the Bears’ next three possessions to put away a 69-63 victory.

Noah finished with 33 points as the Black Bears improved to 18-2. Maddox Huff added 14 points,

The 13-3 Yellow Jackets were led by junior point guard Santonio Waide with 25 points. Layton Starks and Omare Jointer added 15 and 13 points, respectively.

Harlan County was led by five at halftime when Huff directed an impressive third-quarter performance by the Bears’ offense. Harlan County hit its first six shots, including two backdoor passes from Huff to Caleb Johnson, as the lead grew to 10. Huff found Noah for a dunk and then for a layup to close the quarter. Noah added a couple of long passes off rebounds for easy baskets in the run.

Jaycee Carter and Noah hit early 3s as HCHS went up 8-2 before Woodford answered with a 7-0 run to take its first lead. A Noah basket and Brody Napier trey helped the Bears take a 13-11 lead after one quarter.

Noah had three baskets in a 7-2 HC spurt to start the second quarter as the Bears’ advantage grew to seven. Huff heated up with three baskets in the second quarter to help the Bears take a 30-25 lead into halftime.

Harlan County will return to action Friday at home in a girls/boys doubleheader against Harlan.

Noah and Huff torch Middlesboro

John Wheat wasn’t going to overanalyze what he’d just watched unfold from the Middlesboro bench Friday in a 52nd District clash at Harlan County High School. Wheat has seen enough basketball to know what happens when two players the caliber of Trent Noah and Maddox Huff bring their A game on the same night and had a quip ready when someone asked if he got the number of the bus that hit him a few minutes earlier.

“It’s like the old Mary Chapin Carpenter country song, ‘sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug,’” Wheat said after his Jackets fell 97-58 to HCHS. “You know which one we were tonight.”

Noah scored 35 points, hitting 12 of 15 shots from the field, including six of eight 3-pointers. Huff added 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting, including nine of 11 3s to break the school’s single-game record. Harlan County hit 17 of 27 (63 percent) from beyond the 3-point line.

Harlan County (17-2) was playing only its second game of the season after trips to Louisville and Bristol for major tournaments over the holiday break.

Junior guard Jerimah Beck scored 15 points, senior forward Trey King tossed in 14 and senior guard Cayden Grigsby added 10 points to lead the 6-8 Jackets, who fell to 0-2 in district action.

Huff and Noah each hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Bears took a 20-14 lead despite depending almost entirely on 3s with two of 13 shots taken inside the 3-point line.

The game turned into a rout midway through the second quarter as the Bears started shooting at a blazing pace. HCHS connected on 14 of 16 shots in the period as Noah connected on all six, Huff hit four of five and Jaycee Carter connected on three of three. The Bears outscored Middlesboro 36-19 in the quarter and led 56-33 at the break.

The Bears cooled off slightly in the third period, hitting 12 of 18 shots, including back-to-back dunks by Noah and Cottrell. Huff’s 3 with 3:50 left in the period pushed the lead to 78-42 and started a running clock. Harlan County led 87-49 after three quarters, and reserves finished the game for both teams.

Bears beat Bobcats

From Louisville to Bristol to Corbin, the Harlan County Black Bears have put in the miles to test themselves in hopes of a deep postseason run. They didn’t have to travel as far for their latest challenge on Tuesday against a Bell County squad that was one of only two undefeated teams (Henry Clay) in the state and had moved up to second in the 13th Region behind the Bears.

Harlan County responded in much the same fashion as in previous tests, scoring the first six points and staying in control all the way in a 71-52 victory that pushed the Bears’ record to 16-2. Defense, rebounding and offensive balance were all strengths as Bell shot only 36 percent (18 of 50) from the field and was outrebounded 40-19.

The Bears placed four in double figures, led by Trent Noah, who had 24 points and 17 rebounds. Reggie Cottrell added 18 points as he hit seven of 11 shots. Maddox Huff chipped in with 11 points, while Jaycee Carter added 10 rebounds and 10 rebounds.

Blake Burnett scored 22 points and Cameron Hall added 18 for the 16-1 Bobcats.

Caleb Johnson, Carter, Cottrell and Noah each hit 3-pointers in the opening quarter as the Bears took a 16-8 lead.

Huff and Noah each had three baskets in the second period as the Bears’ lead grew to 15 points midway through the quarter. Hall hit two 3s and Burnett added two baskets as the Bobcats cut the deficit to 38-26 at halftime.

Harlan County blew the game open with an 18-2 run in the third quarter as the Bears found success in transition as Noah and Carter each had four rebounds in the period, resulting in several runouts for quick baskets in transition.

Harlan County led 56-37 after three quarters and extended the margin to 25 points, at 71-46, on a 3 by Huff and basket by Cottrell before Jones turned the game over to his reserves with two minutes left.