Harlan County didn’t enter the year as a favorite in the 13th Region, but the Lady Bears have certainly played like one through the first few weeks of the season. Harlan County tied a school record with its seventh-straight win to open the season Monday, with a 63-31 victory over previously unbeaten Hazard.
“We kind of like flying under the radar. But, we still have a long way to go. It is still a long season, but I am pleased with where we are now,” said Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan. “I think we are farther along than most people expected. We still haven’t faced adversity, so we will have to see how we bounce back from that.”
Brooklyn Massingill started the game on fire from beyond the arc. The freshman guard hit four 3-pointers and had 14 points in the first quarter as the Lady Bears took a 17-5 lead. Massingill led all scorers with 22 points.
Harlan County went inside in the second quarter, and senior center Sarah Evans and senior forward Keisha Mimes each had six points in the paint.
Harlan County turned in another stellar defensive effort, limiting Hazard to four points in the second quarter and just eight in the half.
“I thought we came out and were aggressive early. We didn’t know what to expect coming into this one,” Nolan said. “They were undefeated coming in, so I knew our kids had to be focused.”
The Lady Bears continued to look to the post to open the second half. Evans added five more points in the period, and senior forward Madison Cornett contributed four as the lead grew to 53-17.
“We were getting easy shots from the perimeter in the first half. So we wanted to make sure we rewarded our post players in the second half,” Nolan said. “They started coming out on the perimeter and it opened the lane.”
Five players came off of the bench to score a basket in the fourth quarter as the Lady Bears substituted heavily.
Harlan County (7-0) will travel to Knott Central on Friday, while Hazard (5-1) will visit Breathitt County on Dec. 19.
Bella Noe and McKenzie Farley each had six points to lead Harlan County to a 26-20 win in the junior varsity contest.
Bridgette Bennett recorded five points for the Lady Bears. Lauren Smith had four points. Chasity Stewart contributed three points, and Leah Evans added two points.
Harlan County (63) — Kaitlyn Stittums 2, Brooklyn Massingill 22, Lauren Lee 0, Madison Cornett 4, Sarah Evans 12, Keisha Mimes 8, Bella Noe 7, Lauren Smith 2, Shauntae Lewis 2, Becky Freeman 2, Bridgette Bennett 0, McKenzie Farley 2.
Hazard (31) — Madison Niece 2, Brooke Sharpey 4, Sarah Pratt 14, Tori Wells 1, Kellie Patrick 0, Hannah Webb 3, Kellie Patrick 5.