Brother vs. Brother when Clay, Harlan Co. meet in region semi-finals

March 08, 2024

Sibling rivalry will take on a new meaning come Saturday in the semi-finals of the 13th Region Tournament.

Harlan County (29-4), the region’s top-rated team led by coach Kyle Jones, will face Clay County (24-8), the region’s second-rated team led by his brother Michael Jones.

It’s Brother vs. Brother, a matchup the entire 13th region has wanted to see since Michael Jones was named the Tiger basketball coach.

This game has more storylines than a reality show or soap opera.

You’ve got Michael Jones going against the team he used to coach and led to a 13th region championship.

You’ve got Kyle Jones following in the footsteps of his father and brother, attempting to win his first 13th region championship.

After both teams advanced on Thursday night, many media outlets on press row said this could be the biggest game we’ve had in the 13th region in a long time.

“In all my years, I don’t remember seeing two brothers coach against one another, let alone in a 13th region tournament,” 13th Region Media Network CEO Les Dixon said. This is one of the biggest storylines I’ve ever seen in my 30 years of covering sports. You’ve got two very close brothers. Their father coached at both schools and played at Clay County. This is a special occasion for sure.”

The storyline continues as Harlan County features Trent Noah, a Mr. Basketball candidate and a South Carolina commit who started for the Black Bears as an 8th grader…coached by Michael Jones.

Noah averages 30 points per game, but he’s not Harlan County's only weapon. Maddox Huff is a top player in the region, averaging 18 points per game.

Then you have Clay County, the hottest team in the region and winners of 15 games in a row.

The Tigers have three players averaging double figures: Hayden Harris at 17 ppg, Jerrod Roark at 11 ppg, and Elijah Bundy at 11 ppg each. Bundy is one of the best rebounders in the state, averaging 13 ppg. He’s a beast on the boards.

“You’ve got the two best teams in the 13th region going head-to-head. They're very competitive, and both coach hard and want to win,” Dixon added. This is an excellent moment for 13th region sports with one of the best storylines you could ever have.”

Do you need more storylines? Imagine being the parents of Kyle and Michael Jones. Talk about being torn with emotions. When the buzzer sounds, you’re happy and sad at the same time.

All this will unfold on Saturday at The Arena in Corbin at 2:30 p.m. You can stream the game on if you can't make it.