Bobcats close first half with 18-0 run to claim second win over Harlan

Published 2:58 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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By John Henson

Contributing Sports Writer

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Minutes after his Bell County Bobcats finished off a 67-52 win Monday over visiting Harlan to complete a regular-season sweep of the Dragons, Bell County’s Brad Sizemore was already looking ahead to the third matchup in the 52nd District Tournament in late February.

“It’s going to be a tough game in two weeks. We know that,” Sizemore said. “They have a nice team, but we’re doing some good things out there.”

The Bobcats improved to 21-4 overall and 4-2 in the 52nd District with the win as they placed four in double figures, led by freshman forward Ethan Buell with 19 points. Cayden Huff scored 16, followed by Blake Burnett with 15 and Cameron Hall with 13.

Kyler McLendon scored 21 points and Trent Cole added 18 to lead the 6-16 Green Dragons.

Bell County used a 6-0 run late in the first quarter to take a 19-13 lead. The Bobcats led 23-18 with 5:20 left in the half when Harlan coach Derrick Akal benched his starters, apparently unhappy with their effort on the boards. Bell reeled off 18 unanswered points to build a 41-18 halftime lead.

Harlan went back to its starters in the third period and outscored the Bobcats 17-8 to pull within 14. Harlan got as close as 12 in the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats hit all six of their shots from the field and maintained a double-digit advantage.

“I thought we did some really good things to start the game. We moved the ball and made some open shots, and our press was good,” Sizemore said. “Obviously, they outscored us the third quarter, and we knew they wouldn’t quit. They made some shots. We settled down in the fourth quarter and ran our offense.”

Bell County defeated Jackson County on Tuesday. Harlan lost to Knox Central on Tuesday and South Laurel on Saturday.