Lady Bears roll into finals with rout of Jackets

MIDDLESBORO — If the Harlan County Lady Bears needed any reminders about the dangers of not being ready for an opening-round district tournament game, Clay County provided it a night earlier with a massive upset at the hands of Jackson County in the 49th District Tournament.

The Lady Bears made certain they would not follow Clay’s lead and miss next week’s 13th Region Tournament, and they wasted no time making sure.

Harlan County (24-2) raced to a 23-3 lead after one quarter, forcing 11 turnovers while limiting Middlesboro to only one-of-10 shooting on the way to a 69-30 victory Wednesday in the opening game of the 52nd District Tournament. Harlan County will play Harlan on Thursday in the district finals.

“We wanted to come out and set the tone early. We didn’t want to let them hang around, because you never know what can happen,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said. “We wanted to throw a punch and set the tone for the game, and I thought we did that. They had a lot of energy and were enthusiastic. They know nothing will be handed to them.”

“Harlan County is unbelievable,” Middlesboro coach Bethany Evans said. “We played them without (all-state guard) Blair (Green) a few weeks ago and we still struggled. They jumped on us quick and we started playing scared. They are so athletic and run the floor well, plus they’re well coached. It’s hard to bounce back from that. We quit early.”

Green scored 22 points to lead the Lady Bears, hitting 10 of 14 shots. Junior guard Reanna Middleton came off the bench to add 13 points.

Middlesboro (12-15) was led by senior guard Jamaya Poe with 12 points.

The Lady Bears hit 11 of 17 shots in the opening period, most coming in transition off turnovers as Green, Phebe McHargue, Shelby McDaniel and Lainey Cox each had two baskets. Middlesboro missed its first seven shots from the field and trailed 19-1 before Baylee Woody recorded the first field goal for the Lady Jackets over six minutes into the game.

Green hit a 3-pointer and McHargue scored twice off turnovers in the opening 75 seconds of the second quarter as the lead quickly grew to 30-3. Green had four baskets in the quarter while McHargue and K.K. Johnson added two each as Harlan County built its advantage to 50-18 by halftime.

Two baskets by Green sandwiched around a basket by Cox started a running clock with 6:40 left in the third quarter. Green had four baskets as HCHS hit six of nine shots from the field in the period.

Middleton started the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and Morgan Blakley ended it with a trey, the only baskets of the quarter for either team as HCHS outscored Middlesboro 6-2 with reserves for both teams finishing the game.

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Harlan County 69, Middlesboro 30

HARLAN COUNTY (24-2)

Phebe McHargue 4-9 0-0 8, K.K. Johnson 3-5 2-4 9, Blair Green 10-14 1-1 22, Lainey Cox 3-3 0-3 6, Breann Turner 1-3 0-0 2, Shelby McDaniel 2-3 0-0 4, Morgan Napier 1-1 0-2 2, Reanna Middleton 3-4 5-6 13, Morgan Blakley 1-3 0-0 3, Hannah Wood 0-2 0-0 0, Macie Napier 0-2 0-0 0, Kassy Owens 0-1 0-0 0, Dixie Ewing 0-0 0-0 0, Jacey Lewis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 28-52 8-16 69.

MIDDLESBORO (12-15)

Baylee Woody 2-11 1-2 5, Jamaya Poe 2-8 8-9 12, Hannah Warren 1-4 5-6 7, Malorie Carter 0-0 0-0 0, Lakin Burke 0-7 4-8 4 Grace Moles 1-1 0-0 2, Grace Gent 0-2 0-0 0, Tenley Jackson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 6-33 18-25 30.

Harlan County 23 27 13 6 — 69

Middlesboro 3 15 10 2 — 30

3-point goals: Harlan County 5-18 (Middleton 2-2, Johnson 1-3, Blakley 1-3, Green 1-4, Wood 0-1, Macie Napier 0-1, Hoskins 0-1), Middlesboro 0-6 (Warren 0-1, Woody 0-2, Burke 0-3). Rebounds: Harlan County 32 (Turner 8, Cox 5, Johnson 4, Green 4, McDaniel 2, Morgan Napier 2, Blakley 2, Hoskins 2, Middleton 1, Macie Napier 1, Owens 1), Middlesboro 18 (Poe 6, Burke 5, Warren 3, Moles 2, Woody 1, Jackson 1). Turnovers: Harlan County 14, Middlesboro 20. Fouled out: None.