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Late surge sends HCHS over Jackets

Lacking the quickness of some past Harlan County basketball teams, the Black Bears’ success on defense is based an all-out effort. The Bears lacked that intensity for three and a half quarters Tuesday against visiting Middlesboro and found themselves down by two midway through the final quarter.

The Bears found what coach Michael Jones wanted to see at just the right time, closing the game with a 13-4 to down the Jackets 47-40 and improve to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in district action.

“We obviously didn’t play well tonight. We have some kids who aren’t mentally there right now, and they have to do a gut check on themselves,” Jones said. “I thought the last few minutes of the game the effort defensively was outstanding, but I don’t know why we can’t do that the other 28 minutes. That is what we talked about at halftime and after the game. When we learn to give effort all the time we will be hard to beat. We’re pretty average when we don’t give the effort.”

The Bears won despite shooting only 37 percent (17 of 42) from the field. Middlesboro (2-3) also shot 37 percent, hitting 16 of 43 shots.

Junior guard Tyler Cole scored 12 points and sophomore guard Jackson Huff added 10 to lead the Bears.

Senior guards Jabari Kyle and Trey Brock carried the Middlesboro offense with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

Middlesboro led 36-34 with 4:56 left after consecutive baskets from Kyle and Brock. Cole put the Bears ahead to stay with a three-point play at the 4:39 mark. Huff added a 3-pointer the corner to put HCHS in control.

Eric Helton cut the deficit to two, but Huff and Taylor Spurlock answered for the Bears with clutch buckets against the Middlesboro press. Kyle got the Jackets within five with 32 seconds left but they were unable to score again as Cole put the game away with two free throws.

Harlan County returns to action in the Henry Clay Holiday Classic on Thursday, taking on Shelby County at 10:15 p.m.

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Harlan County 47, Middlesboro 40

MIDDLESBORO (2-3)

Jabari Kyle 7-17 0-0 15, Jordan Davis 0-3 0-0 0, Trey Brock 5-12 2-2 13, T.J. Patterson 1-2 1-2 3, Eric Helton 2-5 0-0 5, Zach Tong 1-2 0-0 2, Ethan Barton 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 16-43 5-6 40.

HARLAN COUNTY (4-2)

Trent Noah 3-10 2-3 6, Taylor Spurlock 3-9 2-4 8, Jackson Huff 4-8 0-0 10, Tyler Cole 3-7 3-3 12, Jacob Wilson 2-4 0-0 6, Josh Turner 1-2 0-0 2, Jonah Swanner 1-1 1-1 3, Daniel Carmical 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 17-42 8-11 47.

Middlesboro 4 14 14 8 — 40

Harlan County 7 14 11 15 — 47

3-point goals: Middlesboro 3-19 (), Harlan County 5-18 (). Rebounds: Middlesboro 26 (), Harlan County 27 (). Turnovers: Middlesboro 8, Harlan County 10.