LONDON – The Harlan County Lady Bears survived a scare from Somerset to remain the only unbeaten team in the Candy Cane Classic on Friday.
A 15-point Harlan County lead evaporated in the fourth quarter before sophomore Bella Noe came to the rescue. With the Lady Bears trailing by three, Noe had all seven of Harlan County’s points in the final two minutes to lift her team to a 52-48 win.
After a trey from Bethany Edwards gave the Lady Jumpers a 48-45 lead with 2:20 remaining, Noe answered with a 3-pointer on the opposite end to pull the Lady Bears even. Noe then hit a one-handed runner in the lane to put Harlan County on top with just seven seconds left. Following a turnover on the ensuing possession, Noe calmly drained a pair of free throws to ice the game.
“I told the staff that we were going to put her in a position that she was going to look to score or we would lose,” said Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan. “We needed some people to step up and she is capable of doing that. I thought she played huge for us tonight.”
Somerset’s Madison Brooks opened the game with a basket before Brooklyn Massingill drained a trey on the opposite to give Harlan County the lead. The teams exchanged baskets throughout the opening period. A trey from Somerset’s Erica Ford tied the game at seven, but the Lady Jumpers were unable to regain the lead. Sarah Evans had the final four points of the quarter for the Lady Bears, as they took a 13-12 lead into the second.
Evans controlled the paint throughout the night. The senior center finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Lady Bears.
“Her stamina and timing with the other girls is getting better. We are still making soft passes – that is an area we still have to improve on. But, that was a competitive team, and we had to earn every possession tonight,” Nolan said.
A 3-pointer from Somerset’s Bethany Edwards reduced a five-point Harlan County lead to two with 1:40 seconds remaining in the first half. After a timeout, Massingill and Keisha Mimes each hit a pair of free throws to close out the half and give Harlan County a 23-18 lead.
Harlan County pulled away to open the third quarter. The Lady Bears scored the first ten points to open the second half and push the lead to 33-18, before the Lady Jumpers began to climb back. Somerset close the period on a 15-6 run to reduce the deficit to six.
The momentum carried over into the fourth quarter for the Lady Jumpers. A basket by Erica Ford capped an 11-2 start that gave Somerset a 44-41 lead. A free throw line jumper from Mimes tied the game at 45 with 2:33 remaining. Edwards pushed the margin back to three with a trey from the top of the key, before Noe took over down the stretch.
“They extended their defense, and we started playing not to lose instead of attacking. We had some people that didn’t want to make a play and it got down to the point where we had to make a play,” Nolan said. “We executed really good coming out at halftime and extended the lead, but we had some kids that didn’t want to make some plays when they extended their defense.”
Harlan County (13-1) will face Harlan in the final day of round robin play today at 4 p.m., while Somerset ( 4-7) will meet Barbourville at 6 p.m.
Harlan County (52) – Kaitlyn Stittums 6, Brooklyn Massingill 13, Lauren Lee 2, Keisha Mimes 6, Sarah Evans 15, Bella Noe 10, Madison Cornett 0, Shaunta Lewis 0.
Somerset (48) – Bethany Edwards 14, Miranda Mills 11, Erica Ford 3, Virginia Scott 13, Madison Brooks 7, Jessica Wallace 0, Katelyn Johnson 0.