Bell County made just 12 of 22 attempts from the line in the fourth quarter, but that was enough to give them a hard-fought 54-50 victory over the host Lady Dragons.
Bell shot 17-for-31 from the line in the game, compared to 11-for-24 by Harlan.
"I really thought coming in tonight that we could win the game, especially on our home court," Harlan coach Chuck Mitchell said. "We just didn't make free throws. We didn't shoot real well from the field, behind the arc, but we made some shots and played great defense. That kept us in the game."
Maggie Miracle came off the bench to provide a big lift for Bell County in the final quarter. The junior guard hit six of her eight free throws and scored all eight of her points in the period as the Lady Bobcats erased a three-point deficit and pulled ahead for the win.
The Lady Dragons were behind 29-23 at halftime but began to make a run in the third quarter.
After junior center Kendra Latham opened the period with a basket, Bell countered with consecutive buckets by forward Brooke Smith and guard Kristen Baker. Brooke Parker knocked down a 3-pointer for Harlan and senior Tracy Partin converted a three-point play for the Lady Bobcats.
From there, the Lady Dragons scored nine straight points to take the lead. Rhonda Curtis and Britany Jones each drained a pair of free throws, and senior guard Crystal Fields added a trey. Latham's short jumper put Harlan ahead 37-36 with 1:25 remaining in the period.
Smith countered with another basket to give the Lady Bobcats the lead heading into the fourth quarter. The junior finished with a game-high 30 points, including the 1,000th of her career.
Fields knocked down a pair of free throws and Curtis connected on a short baseline jumper to give Harlan a 41-38 lead with 7:05 remaining in the game.
That's when Miracle went to work for Bell. The junior dropped in a layup to pull the Lady Bobcats within one point, then put them back on top with a pair of free throws with 5:11 left to play.
Smith added one final basket with 4:23 remaining before the Lady Bobcats settled the game at the line.
Even so, Bell couldn't completely capitalize on its opportunities from the stripe. The Lady Bobcats took their biggest lead of the period with 35 seconds left, when Partin made one free throw to put Bell up by six before Parker's final trey pulled Harlan with three.
Miracle hit one last free throw with four seconds left to set up the final margin.
Harlan was able to contain Smith in the second half after the junior forward exploded for 21 points before halftime. Mitchell gave Fields credit for stopping Bell's leading scorer.
"We wanted to mix defenses up. We knew what we were getting. That's why we went to a box-and-one at the end, and Crystal Fields shut her down. She put the locks on her," he said.
Fields, who was named homecoming queen prior to the game, turned in a respectable offensive performance as well, scoring 10 points and dishing out three assists.
Parker led Harlan (12-6) with 18 points. Latham added 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Bell County (15-4) returns to action Monday at Clay County. The Lady Dragons will travel to Williamsburg tonight.
BELL COUNTY (15-4)
Kristen Baker 1-4 0-4 2, Katelyn King 0-1 2-2 2, Teagan Brock 1-1 0-0 2, Brooke Smith 12-15 5-7 30, Tracy Partin 3-12 4-8 10, Maggie Miracle 1-2 6-10 8, Jenna Lefevers 0-1 0-0 0, Ashley Frady 0-0 0-0 0, Kayla Fuson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-36 17-31 54.
Crystal Fields 3-7 3-7 10, Caroline Huff 0-2 0-2 0, Brooke Parker 6-19 2-4 18, Rhonda Curtis 2-4 2-2 6, Kendra Latham 6-16 1-4 13, Britany Jones 0-1 3-5 3, Chassidy Lawson 0-1 0-0 0, Courtney Bell 0-0 0-0 0, Charlene McMillen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-50 11-24 50.
Bell County 15 14 9 16 54
Harlan 8 15 14 13 50
3-point goals: Bell County 1-11 (Smith 1-3, Baker 0-1, King 0-1, Partin 0-6), Harlan 5-16 (Parker 4-11, Fields 1-3, Huff 0-2). Rebounds: Bell County 32 (Miracle 8), Harlan 34 (Latham 12). Assists: Bell County 8 (Brock, King 2), Harlan 7 (Fields 3). Turnovers: Bell County 18, Harlan 17. Fouled out: Bell County (King, Brock), Harlan (Latham, Fields).