Chris Jones | Daily Enterprise

Clay County’s Kaylee Mathis and Harlan’s Noah Canady battled for a loose ball during Monday’s game. Mathis scored 35 points in the Lady Tigers’ 60-45 victory.

Mathis leads Clay over Lady Dragons

Clay County coach James Burchell said his star guard, Kaylee Mathis, was not at 100 percent for Monday’s game at Harlan, but it was the Lady Dragons who were feeling a little under the weather after Mathis had a 35-point, 10-rebound performance in leading the Lady Tigers to a 60-45 win.

“I was a little worried about her coming into the game, but she did fine. She hit some shots,” said Burchell, whose Lady Tigers built a 16-point halftime lead and extended it 20 after three quarters. “I thought we played with poise and stayed in our offense pretty well. Young teams tend to want to do their own things at times, but I thought the first half was real good.”

Harlan (0-2) struggled to take care of the basketball early with seven turnovers in the second quarter and shot only 30 percent (16 of 54) for the game.

The Lady Dragons picked up the intensity on defense in the fourth quarter and went on a 17-7 run to get as close as 11 as Clay turned the ball over eight times in the final period. The Lady Tigers didn’t have a field goal in the quarter.

“They got after us and we didn’t handle it real well,” Burchell said. “That’s good for our kids. Teams in the region all press and get in your face. That was good for us.”

“We were a lot more aggressive. That’s the pace we want to play at,” said Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm. “We practice that way and we have to get where we can play that way for four quarters.”

Senior forward Mackenzie King led the Lady Dragons with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Guards Noah Canady and Payeton Charles each had two baskets to lead Harlan in the fourth quarter. Whitney Wilson provided a spark off the bench on defense as the Lady Dragons cut the deficit to 11 on consecutive baskets by Charles and Taylor Simpson off turnovers. Mathis hit seven of eight from the line over the final 2:36 to seal the win.

Mathis went on her own 8-0 run midway through the first quarter, with a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around two free throws, to break a 4-4 tie and put Clay in control. Harlan closed to within three on baskets by Mackenzie King and Natalee King before two more baskets by Mathis extended the Clay advantage to 16-9 after one period.

Baskets by Brandi Haywood and Mackenzie King helped Harlan close to within four on two occasions, but the Lady Dragons had trouble handing the ball and got only six shots. Mathis and Taylor Asher led a 13-1 run to close the half as Clay pushed its lead to 34-18.

“I thought we were terrible defensively the first half,” Hamm said. “We couldn’t keep them out of the paint and couldn’t defend the 3. I think we are capable of doing that and showed it in the fourth quarter.”

Harlan returns to action Tuesday at home against Middlesboro in the first game of a district doubleheader.

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Freshman guard Edwina Hacker scored 13 points to lead Clay County to a 45-13 win in junior varsity action as the Lady Tigers pulled away in the second half.

Ciara Collins added eight for the Lady Tigers, while Baylie Hensley and Alexis Lewis contributed seven each. Courtney Jones scored six. Allie Rose Phillips added three. McKenzie Sizemore scored one.

Ella Morton, a freshman guard, led Harlan (0-2) with four points. Raegan Jones scored three. Alyssa Gibson, Angel Wynn and Kaylee Leslie added two each.

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Clay County 60, Harlan 45

CLAY COUNTY (3-0)

Taylor Asher 4-7 7-9 15, Shelby Phillips 0-7 2-2 2, Kimberlyn Mills 0-1 1-2 1, Kaylee Mathis 9-16 15-18 25, Summer Parker 2-6 3-6 7, Edwina Hacker 0-1 0-0 0, Candy McClure 0-0 0-0 0, Alexis Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Baylie Hensley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-38 28-37 60.

HARLAN (0-2)

Payeton Charles 3-8 0-2 7, Noah Canady 3-11 0-0 7, Taylor SImpson 1-5 0-0 2, Mackenzie King 5-18 6-9 17, Brandi Haywood 3-6 0-0 6, Natalee King 1-5 0-3 2, Whitney Wilson 0-3 0-0 0, Katelyn Burkhart 0-0 0-0 0, Allie Thompson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-56 10-18 45.

Clay County 16 18 11 15 — 60

Harlan 9 9 7 20 — 45

3-point goals: Clay County 2-13 (Mathis 2-6, Mills 0-1, Phillips 0-6), Harlan 3-15 (Charles 1-2, Canady 1-2, M. King 1-8, N. King 0-1, Simpson 0-2). Rebounds: Clay County 30 (Mathis 10, Phillips 8, Parker 5, Mills 3, Asher 2, McClure 1, Lewis 1), Harlan 29 (M. King 13, Haywood 5, Charles 3, Wilson 3, Simpson 2, Canady 1, N. King 1, Thompson 1). Turnovers: Clay County 17, Harlan 15. Fouled out: Clay County (Parker), Harlan (Canady, Simpson).