Lady Bears survive first-round scare
CORBIN — Any basketball fans in The Corbin Arena on Monday old enough to remember 1978 probably had to take a moment to reflect and wonder in the first half of Monday’s opening-round game matching Harlan County, the regional favorite at 25-2, against an underdog Pineville squad that came in as the 51st District runner-up.
Harlan County went over five minutes without a point in the second quarter and found itself down by four late in the half, bringing back memories of 1978 when a heavily-favored Cawood boys team that had lost only once in 25 games that season fell to Pineville in what many consider the greatest upset in 13th Region basketball history.
The Lady Bears, ranked 17th in the state on Monday, overcame a two-point halftime deficit to restore order in the third quarter on the way to a 59-42 victory, earning a spot in Friday’s semifinals against the winner of the South Laurel-Jackson County played later Monday evening.
“I thought Pineville outplayed us the second quarter,” said Harlan County coach Debbie Green. “Pineville played a great game, and we just didn’t rebound or guard or take care of the basketball. They drove to the basket free and showed us some things we have to improve by Friday. It better be a wake up call.”
Pineville coach Jamie Mills said he thought the Lady Lions could catch Harlan County at a good time with a potential showdown on Friday against South Laurel on the Lady Bears’ minds.
“We came down here Saturday to shoot, and then we practiced Sunday, and I said (to them), ‘if I didn’t believe you could win, we would have come down here and shot and have a big time,” he said. “They’re thinking if they beat South (Laurel) they win it. Let’s catch them off guard — we have nothing to lose.’”
Senior guard Blair Green scored 23 points to lead the Lady Bears. Lainey Cox and Shelby McDaniel added 10 points each.
Pineville (18-12) was led by a 22-point performance from senior guard Jill Enix.
After the Lady Bears missed all seven 3-point attempts in the first half, junior guards Phebe McHargue and K.K. Johnson each found the range early in the third quarter in a 19-5 run to open the period. McDaniel added two baskets, the second coming on a nice pass from Green, to close the run and put HCHS up by 12.
“We changed our defense a little and it was much better the second half,” Green said. “I was proud of the way they played the second half. We need our guards to hit some 3s to open things up. We had good looks early in the game, and they went down and came back out.”
Harlan County seemed fine early as Green had four baskets, three off turnovers, to help the Lady Bears build a 12-4 lead. Pineville turned the ball over 12 times against the HCHS press in the opening period and trailed 18-10 going into the second quarter.
“I told the girls before we came we were going to make turnovers,” Mills said. “I told them not to get down on themselves and just learn from them. We knew we were going to make turnovers.”
The Lady Bears still were up by eight, at 22-14, after a Cox basket with 5:45 left in the half. The Lady Bears went ice cold from there and didn’t score again until Green hit a jumper with two seconds left. Pineville scored 12 unanswered points between Harlan County baskets and built a 26-22 lead. Enix had two baskets and two free throws in the run.
Harlan County 59, Pineville 42
Sarah Combs 0-4 3-4 3, Jill Enix 9-17 4-6 22, Whitney Caldwell 2-7 1-4 5, Mackenzie Fuson 2-9 0-0 4, Raigan King 2-3 4-5 8, Chesney Brock 0-0 0-0 0, Virginia Hall 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-40 12-19 42.
HARLAN COUNTY (26-2)
Phebe McHargue 2-7 0-0 6, K.K. Johnson 2-4 0-2 5, Blair Green 11-21 1-4 23, Lainey Cox 5-9 0-0 10, Breann Turner 1-3 0-1 2, Shelby McDaniel 4-10 2-2 10, Morgan Napier 0-1 1-2 1, Reanna Middleton 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 26-60 4-11 59.
Pineville 10 16 8 8 — 42
Harlan County 18 6 21 14 — 59
3-point goals: Pineville 0-5 (Enix 0-1, Caldwell 0-2, Fuson 0-2), Harlan County 3-17 (McHargue 2-5, Johnson 1-2, Middleton 0-1, Green 0-4, McDaniel 0-4). Rebounds: Pineville 30 (Enix 11, Fuson 7, Caldwell 5, King 5, Combs 2), Harlan County 30 (Cox 13, Green 5, Turner 5, Johnson 2, Napier 2, Middleton 2, McDaniel 1). Turnovers: Pineville 29, Harlan County 19. Assists: Pineville 5 (Enix 2, Combs 1, Caldwell 1, King 1), Harlan County 20 (Johnson 7, McHargue 6, Turner 3, McDaniel 3, Green 1). Fouled out: None.