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Harlan County denies Hazard back-to-back title appearances beating the Bulldogs in OT

Published: Feb. 6, 2021 at 2:13 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2021 at 11:46 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Harlan County was apart of another Mountain Classic thriller Saturday morning in the first Boys’ Semifinal game of the WYMT Food City Mountain Basketball Classic Presented by your local Kentucky Farm Bureau Agents and Sponsored by ARH.

Despite a limited crowd due to COVID-19 protocols, John C. Combs Arena at Perry Central High School was loud as Harlan County beat Hazard 69-65 advancing to Sunday’s Championship game.

“It was a tremendous atmosphere,” said Harlan County’s Trent Noah. “Every game you get you got to be greatful for it because the season could end at any minute.

“It kind of reminded me of last year’s Mountain Classic,” said Hazard’s Wade Pelphrey. “It is way better. It makes the game more intense. It brings pressure to the game and makes it more fun.”

“It is a great experience for me as an 8th grader,” said Sam Shoptaw. “I love playing up and playing good competition.”

Harlan County looked for another buzzer beater Saturday, like the one Wednesday from Maddox Huff to force overtime to advance in the tournament, for a chance to win in regulation. The shot didn’t fall though, resulting in another over time game. Saturday’s game was the fifth-straight WYMT Food City Mountain Basketball game the Black Bears have played in that came down to the final buzzer or needed more time to decide the winner.

“I’m awfully proud of this group,” said Michael Jones, coach of Harlan County. “We aren’t playing very good right now and you have to credit Hazard for a hard fought game but our kids battled through it. We are battle tested. We have played on the road 10 out of 12 games.

In overtime, Harlan County’s Trent Noah went on a 5-0 run that gave Harlan County enough breathing room to win. The freshman, who has been blowing up the stat sheet, had another big performance of 24 points.

Wade Pelfrey cut the deficit to two points with seven seconds remaining by hitting a three, but it wasn’t enough. He led all scorers with 26 points.

“My teammates where helping me by getting me the ball and I just finished the shots,” said Pelphery.

HC will face the winner of Knox Central and Wolfe County Sunday at 2:30pm.

Hazard is slated to be back in action this evening playing the loser of the second semifinal game following the conclusion of that game.

“It is fun. It takes me back to middle school cause I never really played AAU ‚” said Hazard’s Andrew Ford. “We will see how it goes.”

“I told the guys in the locker room. We got a couple hours of so get some Gatorade. Get you a little snack,” said Al Holland. “It is going to be a challenge. We are looking forward to another big game!”

You can watch the postgame interviews below:

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