A 13th Region showdown turned into a beatdown Wednesday, as Harlan County routed defending champion North Laurel 72-46. The Black Bears opened the game on a 10-1 run to take control and never relinquished it as they continued to pull away throughout the contest.
“We will take that. Our kids did some good things. We had a few spells where we got a little disorganized, but they responded back and corrected those as we went along,” said Harlan County coach Mike Jones. “That is a big improvement from last year. Everybody wants to play a perfect game, and we are from that. We just want to get better every game.”
The Bears have placed an emphasis on unselfishness this season, and that trait was evident in the first quarter. Six Black Bears scored in the opening period, as Harlan County jumped out to a 16-6 lead.
A putback by Aaron Caldwell gave Harlan County a 15-point lead midway through the second quarter. Caldwell had seven points in the paint in the second quarter to help push the lead to 34-22 at the half.
“We have a really good team. I’m not worried about that. But, with us playing who we were playing tonight, you expect to come out and compete a little harder than that. Right now we just make excuses,” said North Laurel coach Brad Sizemore.
North Laurel’s Kendrick Henson also had seven points in the period to keep the Jags within striking distance.
The Bears extended their lead by two in the third quarter. Chad Massingill had five points in the period, as Harlan County took a 48-34 advantage into the fourth.The senior guard finished with 23 points to lead all scorers, while grabbing eight rebounds.
“Chad got some missed free throws and put it back in. He made some really good passes. Our kids are learning that there are other ways to score other than just having the ball all the time. They may not be the guy that get the ball every night. It is just going to be a team thing,” Jones said.
The Jaguars closed to within 10 on three separate trips early in the third, but were never able to cut the deficit to single digits.
“When a a team makes a little run on you like that you just have to play possession by possession. You can’t get in too big of a hurry. You have to do the things you know you are capable of doing good, and that is basically what we did,” Jones said.
Harlan County put the game out of reach with a 24-point outburst in the fourth quarter. The lead was at 20, when sophomore Tyler Miller put the crowd on their feet with a dunk and a foul. Miller hit the free throw to make it 65-42 with 3:21 remaining. Both teams substituted heavily down the stretch.
North’s Marcus Carson had seven of his team-high 14 points in the final period.
The Bears pounded the glass throughout the second half, outrebounding North Laurel 19-10 in the final two periods, including seven offensive boards.
“If you are going to win this region you be ready to get physical in the land, get a body on somebody and go get it with two hands. They just did whatever they wanted to do with us,”said Sizemore.
Harlan County (5-0) will host Leslie County on Friday, while North Laurel (3-3) will entertain Riverside Christian on Saturday.
Harlan County (72) — Tyler Brewer 9, Alex Sergent 7, Chad Massingill 23, Aaron Caldwell 15, Tyler Miller 6, Zach Caldwell 8, James Bond 2, Fred Massey 0, Cody Bumgardner 0, Zack Wilson 0.
North Laurel (46) — Marcus Carson 14, Kendrick Henson 8, Peyton Broughton 1, Austin Thompson 5, Austin Rush 8, Bryson Asher 6, Elijah Jervis 3,Ryan House 0, Kyle Jeffery 0, Hagen Hodges 1, Scott Bundy 0, Jaythes Riley 0.