South Laurel avenges loss to Bears

LONDON — In a three-point win at South Laurel last month in the Legacy Nissan Dribble Drive Challenge semifinals, the Harlan County Black Bears found success getting to the basket, either for good shots or to draw fouls.

South Laurel did a much better job of guarding the Bears in the paint during the rematch Tuesday, leading from start to finish in a 58-47 victory. Harlan County shot 29 free throws in the earlier matchup but got only 12 on Monday and struggled to finish around the basket.

“They guarded us a lot better than last time, but we’re not going to accept that as a reason why we didn’t execute,” Harlan County coach Michael Jones said. “We told them before the game and during every timeout that they had to be aggressive. I think some of them think that being aggressive means you have to shoot, but you can be aggressive and get somebody else open. We have to learn to distinguish between taking a shot with two or three people on them and getting a teammate open. We’ll be working on that tomorrow in practice.”

Junior guard J.J. Ramey led a balanced South Laurel (11-3) attack with 20 points. Ryan Anders and Logan Madden, both senior guards, added 16 and 12 points, respectively.

Harlan County (13-2) was led by junior guard Alex Pace with 16 points and senior forward Tyrese Simmons with 10 points.

“I’m disappointed in our effort tonight. We got outplayed, and our kids weren’t ready to play tonight,” Jones said. “They outworked us tonight and deserved to win.”

Ramey got the Cardinals off to a hot start, hitting four of five shots in the period to help South build an 18-9 lead. Drew Nolan had half of the Bears’ four baskets as HCHS hit only four of 12 shots.

Pace had two baskets to lead Harlan County in the second quarter, but the Bears struggled to make a run as South dominated the glass in the period, outrebounding the Bears 10-2. Anders led South with four baskets in the quarter while Madden had two as the Cardinals took a 32-19 lead into the halftime break.

After shooting 60 percent (15 of 25) from the field in the first half, the Cardinals cooled off in the third quarter, hitting three of 11 shots, but Harlan County struggled to capitalize on opportunities. A three-point play by Ramey and basket by Anders gave South a 15-point lead before field goals by Tyler Cole and Andrew Creech cut the deficit to 40-29 going into the fourth quarter.

Harlan County turned up the pressure defensively in the final period and got as close as six on a steal and basket by Simmons and two Nolan free throws, but the Bears were unable to maintain the momentum as South put the game away in the final two minutes on baskets by Madden and Anders.

Harlan County returns to action Friday at Clay County. South Laurel is at home against Clay County on Thursday.


Led by sophomore guard Fischer Proffitt with 19 points and freshman guard Micah Anders with 11, South Laurel pulled away late for a 48-37 win in junior varsity action. Brett Norvell scored seven for the Cardinals, followed by Ford Breeding with six, Ethan Coots with three and Zack Allen with two.

Sophomore center Elisha Smallwood led the 1-3 Bears with 16 points. Tyler Cole scored eight, followed by Kobe Burkhart with five and Josh Turner, Hunter Helton, Michael Simpson and Alex Nantz with two each.


Harlan County (2-1) suffered its first loss in freshman action, falling 43-38. Blake Hodges scored 15 for the Cardinals. Josh Hibbits, Kellin Bundy and Isaiah Blakley scored seven each. Brady Hibbits added six. Wes Wright chipped in with one.

Cole scored 15 and Burkhart added 12 for the Bears. Helton scored six. Turner tossed in three. Logan Blanton contributed two.


South Laurel 58, Harlan County 47


Andrew Creech 2-12 2-2 6, Drew Nolan 3-11 3-4 9, Alex Pace 6-9 2-3 16, Tyrese Simmons 4-5 2-3 10, Lamar Burkhart 0-3 0-0 0, Gabe Price 1-3 0-0 2, Patrick Bynum 1-3 0-0 2, Tyler Cole 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 18-47 9-12 47.


Logan Madden 5-8 2-2 12, Matthew Cromer 3-8 2-2 8, J.J. Ramey 8-13 2-3 20, Ryan Anders 8-15 0-3 16, Clay Weaver 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Hostetler 1-3 0-0 2, Sawyer Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Chase Carson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-47 6-10 58.

Harlan County 9 10 10 18 — 47

South Laurel 18 14 8 18 — 58

3-point goals: Harlan County 2-9 (Pace 2-3, Creech 0-1, Nolan 0-2, Burkhart 0-3), South Laurel 2-8 (Ramey 2-4, Cromer 0-2, Anders 0-2). Rebounds: South Laurel 27 (Ramey 7, Madden 6, Weaver 6, Cromer 4, Anders 4), Harlan County 21 (Pace 7, Simmons 4, Creech 3, Burkhart 3, Price 2, Nolan 1, Cole 1). Turnovers: Harlan County 13, South Laurel 15. Fouled out: None.