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Green leads Lady Bears past Bell

LOG MOUNTAIN — Harlan County High School basketball after Kaylea Gross began Tuesday at Bell County and the Lady Bears found a formula they will likely need to stay near the top of the 13th Region — strong defense, a team effort on the backboards and a steady dose of Blair Green.

Gross, the Lady Bears’ all-state center, was on the bench in street clothes after suffering a torn ACL on Saturday during the Lady Bears’ win over South Laurel in the WYMT Mountain Classic. Harlan County responded to her absence by forcing 20 Bell County turnovers while owning a 40-20 advantage on the boards. Green, an all-state guard, was also solid once again with a 24-point, 12-rebound effort in Harlan County’s 60-34 win.

“We did a lot of good things as far as defensively and ball movement, but we missed some easy shots,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said. “I think we were a little tight tonight and maybe a little flat coming off the WYMT tourney and having a snow day at school today.”

Junior guard Phebe McHargue helped lead the HCHS defensive effort and added 10 points, including four baskets off turnovers.

Brittney Cupp, a 6-2 senior center, was the only consistent offensive threat for the Lady Cats with 18 points. Offense has been a problem for the Lady Cats in their 1-4 start this season.

“We’ve had trouble the early part of the season putting the ball in the basket, but it’s not from a lack of effort,” Bell County coach David Teague said. “We battled and fought for most of the game. We just have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. We also need to do a better job of finishing shots.”

Bell took a short-lived 5-2 lead before Green sparked a 10-0 HCHS run with two baskets off turnovers. Lainey Cox and Breann Turner each had baskets late in the period as the Lady Bears built a 16-7 lead.

McHargue had three straight baskets early in the second quarter as the Lady Bears caused problems with their defense and work on the offensive glass.

“They hurt us early on weak-side rebounding,” Teague said. “You give so much attention to Blair it gets you out of position. We also gave up some easy baskets on turnovers.”

Harlan County was up by 11 to start the second half when McHargue got the Lady Bears off to another strong start with two straight baskets in transition. Green hit a 3-pointer and Shelby McDaniel added a basket as HCHS took a 40-24 lead into the final period.

Green ended any hopes Bell had of an upset with nine straight points to open the fourth quarter. Baskets by Turner and McDaniel pushed the lead to 24. Reanna Middleton and Morgan Blakley came off the bench to score down the stretch.

Karlee Cox carried the Bell offense late with a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

Harlan County will play host to Harlan on Friday in a girls/boys doubleheader. Bell County travels to Lee, Va., on Thursday.

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Sophomore guard Morgan Blakley scored 17 points as the Harlan County junior varsity team improved to 3-0 with a 55-34 win.

Jayce Lewis tossed in nine points and was followed by Hannah Wood with eight, Hannah Johnson with six, Emily Long with five, Dixie Ewing with four and Kelly Beth Hoskins, Kassy Owens and Abby Vitatoe with two each.

Abigail Cornett led Bell County with 10 points. Sarah Kidwell and Makenna Lefevers added five each. Mackenzie Griffin and Mary-Kate Smith scored four each. Lakyn King, Callie Pannell and Lenia Miracle added two each.

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Harlan County 60, Bell County 34

HARLAN COUNTY (6-0)

Phebe McHargue 5-10 0-0 10, K.K. Johnson 1-6 0-0 3, Blair Green 10-20 2-2 24, Lainey Cox 2-5 2-4 6, Breann Turner 3-7 1-2 7, Rebecca Middleton 0-3 0-2 0, Shelby McDaniel 2-7 0-1 4, Reanna Middleton 1-2 0-0 2, Morgan Napier 1-1 0-0 2, Morgan Blakley 1-1 0-0 2, Hannah Wood 0-1 0-0 0, Macie Napier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-63 5-11 60.

BELL COUNTY (1-4)

Brittany Davis 0-4 1-2 1, Lindsey Bryant 0-4 0-0 0, Abby Harris 1-10 1-3 3, Karlee Cox 3-12 0-0 9, Brittney Cupp 8-12 2-2 18, Brea Browning 1-1 0-0 2, Abigail Cornett 0-0 0-1 0, Courtney Bryant 0-0 1-2 1, Mary Smith 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 13-44 5-12 34.

Harlan County 16 11 13 20 — 60

Bell County 7 9 8 10 — 34

3-point goals: Harlan County 3-20 (Green 2-5, Johnson 1-5, McDaniel 0-2, Rebecca Middleton 0-3, McHargue 0-5), Bell County 3-13 (Cox 3-10, Davis 0-1, Bryant 0-2). Rebounds: Harlan County 40 (Green 12, Johnson 8, Cox 7, McDaniel 5, Turner 3, McHargue 2, Morgan Napier 2, Wood 1), Bell County 20 (Cupp 9, Bryant 3, Harris 3, Cox 3, Davis 1, Browning 1). Turnovers: Harlan County 13, Bell County 20. Fouled out: None.