The Harlan County Lady Bears have become all too accustomed to winding up on the wrong side of dramatic finishes as of late. The Lady Bears dropped their third straight heart-breaker Tuesday in a 67-62 overtime loss to Magoffin County in the first round of the WYMT Mountain Classic at Knott Central.
Magoffin County fell to the Lady Bears less than two weeks ago in a holiday tournament at Shelby Valley, but Jazzy Howard didn’t allow the Lady Hornets to suffer the same result in the latest meeting. The point guard poured in 32 points to lift Magoffin to the win.The Lady Bears were contain Howard in the open court, as the sophomore was able to finish most of her drives off with a basket or trip to the free throw line.
“The sad part is No. 1 on our keys tonight was transition defense,” Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan said. “We just didn’t get it done. We told them they would leak out. They had trouble scoring against our half-court defense, but we let it happen. We have to grow up.”
Harlan County led by as much as five when senior Lauren Lee opened the fourth quarter with a basket to make it 45-40. The Lady Bears were unable to put the game out of reach. Instead, Howard recorded seven straight points to put the Lady Hornets up by two. Junior Bella Noe turned in five straight Harlan County points to put the Lady Bears back up by three. Noe finished with 17 points to pace HC.
Senior Shannon Shackleford then recorded four straight Harlan County points as the Lady Bears maintained a two point lead. Magoffin’s Madison Reed tied the game at 54 with a pair of free throws. Howard gave the Lady Hornets a two-point lead with another pair of free throws, before Stittums tied the score and sent the game to overtime on a drive and layup with just under one minute left.
Howard took over in the extra period. She had all of Magoffin’s points in overtime, outscoring Harlan County 11-6, as the Lady Hornets pulled away with the win.
“It comes down to making plays and getting stops,” Nolan said. “We won’t win games like this consistently until we have five on the floor ready to play. We’re not consistent. We’re not mentally tough enough. That’s the difference. We could be undefeated right now, but it comes down to making plays. Instead of settling for a fadeaway shot, we need to get to the free throw line. We tell them over and over. That’s a lack of toughness.
Sophomore Brooklyn Massingill had five points in the first quarter as Harlan County took a 12-9 advantage.
Harlan County never trailed in the second quarter and took a 28-25 lead into the half. Massingill had five more points in the period to allow the Lady Bears to maintain the advantage.
The lead remained at three points heading into the final period. Noe led the way with six points in the third quarter.
Magoffin County (9-3) will face the winner of the Bell County/Leslie County matchup in the WYMT Mountain Classic Championship, while Harlan County (11-4) will take on the loser of that contest.
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Harlan County (62) — Kaitlynn Stittums 13, Lauren Lee 9, Brooklyn Massingill 14, Bella Noe 17, Shannon Shackleford 7, Lindsay Branson 0, Kaylea Gross 2, Kaitlin Evans 0.
Magoffin County (67) — Jazzy Howard 32, Jamie Castle 14, Leslee Howard 7, Madison Reed 6, Courtney Gullett 8, Alexis Montgomery 0.