Lady Eagles execute late, edge Harlan
With five seniors gone from a 27-win squad that advanced all the way to last year’s 14th Region Tournament finals, the Leslie County Lady Eagles of 2018 probably weren’t supposed to be quite as good as the 13-2 mark they’ve collected thus far.
Coach Mark Collett isn’t planning to let his squad in on the secret.
“We lost a lot from last year, but they have played every game so far gritty and hard,” Collett said. “They’ve done the little things down the stretches of games. I think they have exceeded expectations the first third of the season.”
Execution with the game on the line was the difference for the Lady Eagles in winning another close game, this one Tuesday at Harlan against the defending 13th Region champions. The game was tied at 48 with just under three minutes left when Leslie closed with a 14-3 run that included nine of 12 free throws in the final 90 seconds for a 62-51 win.
“We executed late and made our free throws, which is always important,” Collett said. “Lexy (Myers) and Haley (Simpson) controlled the ball pretty well late in the game.”
“We had a lot of trouble making our free throws, and they weren’t missing any,” Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm said. “We didn’t do some things execution-wise very well.”
Sophomore guard Lexy Myers scored 22 points to lead the Lady Eagles. Junior guard Haley Simpson added 14 points.
Harlan was led by senior forward Mackenzie King with 28 points and nine rebounds.
“A lot of it came down to us stopping them on their end,” Collett said. “King is a pretty good player. They returned a lot off a really good team last year. I think they will be someone teams over here have to deal with.”
“Mackenzie had a big game offensively tonight, but we didn’t have a lot to go with her,” Hamm said. “Our guards had some trouble scoring tonight, but they had been playing well lately and giving us some balance. Leslie is a good team though.”
Simpson led the Leslie offense in the first quarter, hitting three early shots as the Lady Eagles grabbed a 10-5 lead. Two straight baskets by Kailee Mullins pushed the advantage to 17-10 before a basket by Brandi Haywood and 3-pointer by Noah Canady pulled Harlan within two after one period.
Two straight baskets by Natalee King, who had five rebounds in the second quarter, pulled Harlan even and a trey by Mackenzie King put Harlan on top. Two straight baskets by Myers put Leslie back ahead, then Myers closed the half with five straight points to give the Lady Eagles a 33-27 advantage at the break.
Two straight 3-pointers by Harlan’s Taylor Simpson cut the deficit to one with 5:40 left, but Harlan missed several chances to take the lead as each team went scoreless for the next three and a half minutes Two straight baskets by Leslie’s Kelsey Harvey finally broke the drought and helped the Lady Eagles take a 42-37 lead into the final period.
Mackenzie King had all five Harlan baskets in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 48 with 2:55 left and then pulling the Lady Dragons within two with 1:32 to play after Leslie had scored four straight.
Myers hit one of two at the line with 1:18 to play to extend the Leslie lead to three. Harvey hit two free throws for a five-point advantage. Myers hit six of eight over the final 54 seconds to put the game out of reach.
Harlan returns to action Friday at Letcher Central. Leslie County plays host to Jackson County on Thursday.
Freshman guard Macy Fee scored 14 points to lead the Lady Eagles to a 43-26 win in junior varsity action.
Hannah Gay and Emma Napier added seven and six points, respectively, for Leslie County. Baylee Davidsion tossed in four. Lindsey Wilson scored three. Deanna Simpson, Emily Bowling, Carolyn Buckle and Kadisson Napier added two each. Jess Maggard scored one.
Ella Morton, Alli Thompson and Angel Wynn scored six each for the 0-7 Lady Dragons. Raegan Jones chipped in with four. Alyssa Gibson scored two. Emma Owens and Makayla Sizemore added one each.
Leslie County 62, Harlan 51
LESLIE COUNTY (13-2)
Hailee Mullins 2-8 3-4 9 Haley Simpson 5-8 3-6 14, Kailee Mullins 2-3 0-0 5, Lexy Myers 5-11 11-15 22, Kaley Horton 1-5 1-2 3, Kelsey Harvey 3-6 3-4 9, Macy Fee 0-1 0-1 0, Hannah Gay 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 18-44 21-31 62.
Payeton Charles 0-7 0-0 0, Noah Canady 2-11 0-2 6, Taylor Simpso 2-7 0-0 6, Mackenzie King 9-15 8-14 28, Brandi Haywood 2-2 0-0 4, Natalee King 2-8 0-0 4, Whitney Wilson 0-0 3-4 3, Katelyn Burkhart 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-50 11-20 51.
Leslie County 17 16 9 20 — 62
Harlan 15 12 10 14 — 51
3-point goals: Leslie County 5-13 (H. Mullins 2-5, Simpson 1-1, K. Mullins 1-2, Myers 1-4 Gay 0-1), Harlan 6-16 (M. King 2-2, Simpson 2-4, Canady 2-6, N. King 0-1, Charles 0-3). Rebounds: Leslie County 34 (Myers 12, Simpson 5, K. Mullins 5, Horton 5, H. Mullins 4, Harvey 3), Harlan 26 (N. King 10, M. King 9, Canady 3, Simpson 2, Charles 1, Wilson 1). Turnovers: Leslie County 11, Harlan 11. Fouled out: Leslie County (Simpson), Harlan (N. King, Simpson).