Black Bears close regular season with victory at Whitley County

Published 5:24 pm Monday, February 26, 2024

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By John Henson 

Contributing Sports Writer

For more local sports coverage, please visit our partners at Harlan County Sports.

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Up by only point at halftime, the Harlan County Black Bears took control with a strong third quarter on the way to an 85-73 win Thursday at Whitley County to close the regular season for both teams.

The Black Bears hit 10 of 15 shots in the decisive third quarter as Trent Noah hit five of eight shots in scoring 19 on the way to a 34-point night. Reggie Cottrell connected on four of four shots and finished with 11 points.

Harlan County’s lead grew to 16 points with 5:25 left as senior forward Caleb Johnson, who finished with 16 points, scored inside. Maddox Huff added a 3 early in the final period as part of his 10-point night. The Colonels reeled off nine straight points to get as close as seven before HCHS regained control to finish the regular season at 26-4 with a 17-0 mark against regional competition.

“I’m proud of our guys’ effort. We just had a couple stretches where we didn’t execute in spots, but our effort gave us a chance to stay in the game,” Whitley County coach Eric Swords said. “Hats off to Harlan County. They have a great team and played well.”

Harlan County turned the ball over 17 times as the Colonels matched the Bears’ intensity.

“That was uncharacteristic for us, but Whitley is a good team and they played hard and physical,” said Harlan County coach Kyle Jones. “We still have some things to correct, and I’m confident we’ll get it corrected. We’ll go back to work tomorrow and get ready for the district tournament.”

Senior guard Danny Ellis scored 25 points and freshman guard Evan Ellis added 19 for the 20-9 Colonels

Both teams return to action on Tuesday at home in their respective district tournaments as Harlan County takes on Middlesboro and Whitley County plays South Laurel.