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When Big Expectations Aren’t Quite Big Enough

Photo: Vinny Hardy,

Getting back home to Harlan County to watch a Black Bears basketball game at the new school in the new gym had been on my to-do list for quite some time. I guess I should use the term “new” loosely also. Harlan County High School (which consolidated Cumberland, Evarts and James A. Cawood high schools) opened in 2008.

In my defense, when things in Harlan County get labeled as “new” they tend to stay new for quite some time. For example, Highway 119, the stretch of road that takes you from Cumberland to Harlan, had just been completed before I was born in 1977. That said, the highway has been called “the new road” my entire life. Even though Harlan County High School is nearly a decade old, now you understand why I was excited to get back and see a basketball game at the “new” school in the “new” gym.

I had managed to make it back for football games at the “new” football field which makes my failure to get back for a basketball game all the more puzzling.

The Black Bears vaulted out of the gate to a 19-0 start to the 2016-17 season. Senior point guard Cameron Carmical has nailed a game winning buzzer-beater that made it on SportsCenter. Going into this past weekend, the Black Bears were an impressive 25-2.

Finally, this past Saturday, the elusive basketball game was elusive no more. I made it back and got to watch Harlan Co. host Pikeville.

The crowd is pretty sparse because a lot of people stayed home on this Saturday evening watching Kentucky take it on the chin versus Florida.

You don’t have to be biased like myself to notice how beautiful the gym is. I knew from going to the football games that the gym was going to be really nice and it still blew my mind how awesome the facility was. The short stroll through the main entrance en route to the gym was incredible as well. On each side of the hallway is the Hall of Memories which pays tribute to every county high school that has existed in Harlan County: Cumberland, Benham, Lynch, Hall, Wallins Creek, Evarts, Cawood, Loyall as well as the black schools in the county prior to integration: Lynch, East Benham and Rosenwald.

They blended a touching tribute to the past with all of the creative innovation of the present and future. It’s a perfect balance.

Oh, and as for the score of Saturday’s game, Harlan County won 67-62 to improve to 26-2. You can best believe that the gym will be packed out tonight (Feb 7) as the Corbin Redhounds (19-4) come to town for a mammoth match up.

I won’t be there for this one but best believe I’ll definitely be back at the “new” school for another game real soon.

1 Comment

  1. […] is unreal. It doesn’t matter if you still live at home in Harlan County or if you’ve moved somewhere else within the state, or even out-of-state. The happiness doesn’t change. The last time this feeling occurred for me was prior to the […]

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