An Enterprise Staff Report
The Harlan County Black Bears responded from their first loss of the season with a 52-47 victory over Highlands in the consolation bracket of the Pikeville Invitational Tournament on Friday.
Harlan County scored the game’s first 14 points with the help of a strong defensive effort that led to 10 turnovers in the opening period.
The Bears had to hang on late though as Highlands battled its way back with a physical defense that led to 16 HCHS turnovers in the final three quarters.
“We got off to a good start, but you have to give Highlands credit. They kept coming at us,” Harlan County coach Mike Jones said. “This type of physical game will be good experience for our kids. We’d like to have done better finishing plays, but we hit some throws at the end. We’ll see this type of aggressiveness and this style of officiating when we play in the WYMT (Classic).”
Sophomore forward Tyler Miller was the most consistent of the Bears with 19 points and nine rebounds. Senior guard Alex Sergent added 12 points.
Highlands (4-6) was led by senior forward Luke Turner with 18 points.
Turner brought the Bluebirds back from a 12-point deficit to begin the final quarter as he had eight points, including back-to-back 3-pointers, in a 10-1 run that cut the deficit to 44-41 with 5:26 to play.
Baskets by Miller and Aaron Caldwell pushed the lead back to seven with three minutes left before Highlands made a final push. Bailey Witte and Nick True each scored as Highlands pulled within two, at 48-46, with 1:01 left. Harlan County put the game away at the line as Cody Bumgardner and Miller each hit two in the final minute.
Harlan County struggled, like the day before against Breathitt County, to finish around the basket.
Tyler Brewer and Caldwell each had two baskets in the Bears’ 14-0 run to start the game. Highlands was able to get up only three shots in the opening six minutes and didn’t score until Justin Weyer’s 3-pointer with just over two minutes left in the quarter. Karl Hinkel’s 3-pointer was the Bluebirds’ only other basket in the quarter as they trailed 18-6 when the period ended.
Both teams started hot in the second quarter with each scoring in transition to beat pressure. Sergent hit two 3-pointers in the opening four minutes of the period as Harlan County stretched its lead to 15.
Harlan County (12-1) will conclude tournament play on Saturday at 4:45 in the fifth-place game.
HARLAN COUNTY (52) —Tyler Brewer 5, Alex Sergent 12, Chad Massingill 0, Tyler Miller 19, Aaron Caldwell 6, Zach Caldwell 6, James Bond 0, Cody Bumgardner 4.
HIGHLANDS (47) — Karl Hinkel 3, Ryan Greene 7, Bailey Witte 6, Luke Turner 18, Nick True 4, Brendan Buton 0, Jensen Feggins 2, Jake Gronotte 2, Parker Harris 0.