BEN HUR, Va. — Harlan County’s Shannon Shackleford appeared to be headed toward a breakout season before a knee injury forced her to miss her junior season. The senior forward got back on track Thursday, leading Harlan County to a 61-34 victory over Lee, Va.
Harlan County opened the contest with 11 straight points and never trailed against the Lady Generals. Shackleford had six points in the first quarter as the Lady Bears jumped out to a 16-9 advantage after one period. She finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks to lead HCHS in each category.
“We wanted to concentrate on having an inside presence. We talked about it in practice, and I thought the kids did a real good job of feeding the ball at the right time,” said Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan.
The Lady Bears continued to pad their lead in the second quarter. Shackleford and junior Bella Noe each recorded six points in the period as the lead grew to 36-19 at the half.
Harlan County turned in a patened defensive effort in the second half. The Lady Bears limited Lee to just 15 points in the final two quarters as they pulled away for the win.
“We have the potential to be really good, but we are going to have to improve in several areas,” Nolan said. “We are going to take it one game at a time.”
The Lady Generals trailed by 13 midway through the third quarter, but Harlan County closed the period with seven straight points to put the game out of reach. Shackleford and sophomore Brooklyn Massingill each hit a pair of free throws to close the third.
Shackleford and eighth-grade center Kaylea Gross had four points each in the paint as the lead continued to grow in the fourth quarter. The Lady Bears were able to extend the lead to as much as 19 points despite heavy substitutions.
“We are looking hard to see who is going to give us some key minutes. We are seeing the potential to do it. We have still got to get better with our help-side when we go to our bench. But, we are improving,” Nolan said. “We don’t necessarily have to have points, but they have got to go in there and not give up points.”
Harlan County (2-0) returns to action Tuesday against Pineville in a double-header.
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HARLAN COUNTY (61) — Kaitlyn Stittums 7, Lauren Lee 6, Brooklyn Massingill 11, Bella Noe 6, Shannon Shackleford 20, Kaylea Gross 5, Lindsay Branson 2, Breann Turner 2, Bridgett Bennett 0, Becky Freeman 0, Lauren Smith 0, Rebecca Middleton 0, Noah Canady 0, Hannah Gaw 0, Morgan Napier 2.
LEE, Va. (34) — Mackenizie Arney 5, Jessica Crabtree 0, Sam Ely 9, Alyson Robbins 10, Taylor Medley 4, Kenzi McPherson 4, Verity Collingsworth 0, Savannah Rasnic 2, Marquita Garnett 0.