By John Henson For The Times-Tribune
HARLAN — Even though you get an extra point for hitting long-range shots, Harlan County coach Mike Jones still prefers to get his team as close to the basket as he can.
That strategy backfired Friday when the Bears were upset at Bell County as the Bobcats outscored Harlan County 21-0 from beyond the three-point line in a 56-54 win. Harlan County lost the three-point battle again Tuesday against visiting Knox Central as the Panthers hit six three-pointers compared to one for the Bears. The war, however, went to the Bears this time as Harlan County dominated in the paint in a 55-45 victory.
Led by 16 points from senior center Aaron Caldwell and 10 from sophomore forward Tyler Miller, the Bears improved to 17-3.
“I thought we played hard. I was pleased with our effort,” Knox Central coach Brian Evans said. “I thought we did a poor job the first half of keeping them out of the lane in man to man and zone. Just about all their points in the first half were right at the rim.
“We did a little better job the second half of making them shoot something besides layups. We did a better job the second half and got back in it, but we couldn’t get over the hump. They are a good team, a senior-dominated team. We're trying to get better every game, and we're not quite there yet.”
Harlan County did most of its damage in the paint but still struggled at times to convert on shots around the hoop.
“These kids want to win. There are just some things we need to correct before the district tournament,” Jones said. “We’re focusing on improving in some areas. We were getting good shots tonight, but we weren't finishing around the rim. We’ll keep working on that in practice.”