The Harlan County defense continued to frustrate anyone its matched up with in Friday’s district opener. The Lady Bears held their fourth straight opponent to their lowest scoring output of the season in a 71-36 rout of Middlesboro.
Harlan County forced a Middlesboro team that had been competitive through three games into 22 turnovers and allowed just 11 made baskets in a dominant defensive effort.
“I think our defense probably took a toll on them. We were able to turn them over and get some transition baskets, which always helps us out offensively,” said Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan.
Harlan County had success from the perimeter on the offensive end. Three Lady Bears combined to drain eight 3-pointers in the win. Sophomore Brooklyn Massingill had four treys and finished with a game-high 18 points. Junior guard Bella Noe added three from beyond the arc and finished with 13 points.
“We are not as big as we have been in the past right now, but we are able to put the ball on the floor and have people that can stretch the defense,” Nolan said. “We were still passing up some shots we should have took and forcing the extra pass.”
The Lady Bears outscored Middlesboro 14-6 in the first quarter to quickly take control. Sophomore guard Lindsay Branson and eighth-grade center Kaylea Gross came off of the bench to score the last seven Harlan County points in the period. The duo combined for 15 points.
“We wanted to focus on improving our depth, especially in December. In certain matchups we have several people we like in those spots,” Nolan said. “Lindsay has good length for a guard. She is able to play two or three spots, and that is helping her. Kaylea is a force inside.”
Blair Green had all six of Middlesboro’s points in the first eight minutes.
Green had Middlesboro’s only made shot from the field in the second quarter as Harlan County continued to pull away. The Lady Bears forced seven turnovers in the period, and took 38-12 advantage into the half.
Middlesboro was unable to cut into the deficit in the second half.
Green continued to carry the offensive load for the Lady Jackets. The eighth-grader recorded 10 of her 18 points in the final two quarters. Middlesboro was unable to generate anything offensively outside of Green and freshman point guard Bailey Hensley, who finished with 16 points. The rest of the Lady Jackets’ roster combined for just two points.
“I feel my two main scorers are Blair and Bailey. We just need some others to step up and hit shots. I don’t know if it’s confidence or what,” said Middlesboro coach Elgie Green. “Those two have to average double figures and we need a few others scoring seven or eight a game. We have to find somebody else to rebound. We have to have some kids who want the basketball. We just don’t have that right now.”
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Harlan County (5-0) stayed unbeaten on the season with a 65-47 victory at South Laurel in 13th Region action on Saturday.
Massingill turned in 19 points, while Noe added 12 in the win. Senior guards Kaitlyn Stittums and Lauren Lee each added nine points.
A 15-point effort by eighth-grade center Kaylea Gross lifted the Harlan County junior varsity team to a 35-25 victory.
Rebecca Middleton added nine points for the 3-0 Lady Bears. Lindsay Branson and Noah Canady scored three each. Breann Turner and Kacie Russell added two each. Hannah Gaw scored one.
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Harlan County (71) — Kaitlyn Stittums 9, Lauren Lee 2, Brooklyn Massingill 18, Bella Noe 13, Shannon Shackleford 7, Lindsay Branson 8, Kaylea Gross 7, Lauren Smith 3, Breann Turner 0, Bridgett Bennett 0, Noah Canady 2, Morgan Napier 2, Hannah Gaw 0.
Middlesboro (36) — Bailey Hensley 16, Blair Green 18, Amanda Biscardi 0, Hannah Warren 0, Morgan Thompson 1, Lauren Spurlock 0, Jamaya Poe 1, Baylie Woody 0, Malorie Carter 0.
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Harlan County (65) — Brooklyn Massingill 19, Bella Noe 12, Lauren Lee 9, Kate Stittums 9, Kaylea Gross 6, Shannon Shackleford 6, Bridgett Bennett 2, Lauren Smith 2.
South Laurel (47) — Brittany Vandeventer 17, Shelby Davis 8, Taylor Cromer 7, Rebecca Phelps 4, Katie Reynolds 4, Bailey Miller 3, Austin Hacker 2, Maegan Niece 2.