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Lady Bears roll past Harlan in district clash

Defense and depth proved to be difference makers for the Harlan County Lady Bears as they completed the first half of their district schedule unbeaten Friday, rolling past visiting Harlan 73-33.

Harlan County (6-0 overall, 3-0 district ) dominated in just about every statistical category, forcing 23 turnovers while outrebounding Harlan (3-4 overall, 2-1 district) 38-24, leading to 66 shots for the Lady Bears, compared to 38 for Harlan. The Lady Bears took control early with a press that has been effective all season and led to seven turnovers in each of the first two quarters on Friday.

“We always try to get our offense from our defense. We had a lot of deflections and forced a lot of turnovers tonight,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said.

The Lady Bears have continued to play well despite losing all-state center Kaylea Gross to a knee injury a week ago.

“We’ll carry on for her. You have to play with no regrets,” Green said. “We’re playing with a lot of energy right now and that’s good to see.”

Senior guard Blair Green scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Lady Bears despite something of an off night shooting. Phebe McHargue added 13 points. Lainey Cox had eight points and eight rebounds.

The Lady Bears also got a big performance from their reserves, outscoring Harlan 20-3 in that category, led by junior guard Shelby McDaniel with nine points and numerous forced turnovers.

“Shelby has played great every game, and Morgan Napier gave us a big lift tonight,” Green said.

Senior forward Mackenzie King and junior guard Payeton Charles each scored 10 points to lead the Lady Dragons.

Harlan County raced to a 5-0 lead on a basket by Cox off the opening tip and a 3-pointer by McHargue. Green took over midway through the opening quarter, hitting three shots in a 13-2 run that put the Lady Bears up 18-5. A basket by King cut the deficit to 10 after one period.

Two straight baskets by Green pushed the lead to 14 early in the second quarter before a flurry of turnovers forced by McDaniel led to one layup each for McDaniel and Green to cap an 8-0 run that put the Lady Bears up 34-14.

Harlan battled back to within 15 on two free throws by Brandi Haywood, a basket by King and a free throw by Noah Canady. K.K. Johnson hit a 3-pointer and McHargue scored off a turnover as HCHS built a 39-20 lead at the break.

The Lady Dragons hit only three of 14 shots in the third quarter as Harlan County pulled out to a 55-29 lead, led by two baskets each from McHargue and Green.

McDaniel had three baskets in the fourth quarter, capped by a highlight reel reverse layup that gave the Lady Bears a 68-32 lead and started a running clock midway through the period. Reann Middleton and Morgan Blakley also scored down the stretch for Harlan County.

Harlan County will play Anderson County on Saturday at 5 p.m. at South Laurel. Harlan will play host to Knox Central on Monday in the first half of the Doc Gray Classic.

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Harlan County 73, Harlan 33

HARLAN (3-4)

Payeton Charles 4-7 1-3 10, Noah Canady 1-6 2-4 4, Natalee King 1-5 1-3 4, Mackenzie King 4-12 2-4 10, Brandi Haywood 0-2 2-2 2, Taylor Simpson 0-1 0-0 0, Whitney Wilson 0-2 1-3 1, Katelyn Burkhart 0-2 2-2 2, Angel Wynn 0-0 0-0 0, Alli Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Makayla Sizemore 0-0 0-0 0, Kaylee Leslie 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 10-37 11-21 33.

HARLAN COUNTY (7-0)

Phebe McHargue 6-9 0-0 13, K.K. Johnson 1-6 2-2 5, Blair Green 9-21 5-6 23, Lainey Cox 4-7 0-0 8, Breann Turner 2-5 0-0 4, Shelby McDaniel 4-7 1-2 9, Rebecca Middleton 0-2 2-2 2, Morgan Napier 1-5 2-2 4, Reanna Middleton 1-1 1-1 3, Morgan Blakley 0-1 2-2 2, Hannah Wood 0-1 0-0 0, Macie Napier 0-1 0-0 0, Kelly Beth Hoskins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-66 15-17 73.

Harlan 8 12 9 4 — 33

Harlan County 18 21 16 18 — 73

3-point goals: Harlan 2-12 (Charles 1-2, N. King 1-2, Canady 0-1, Simpson 0-1, Wilson 0-2, M. King 0-4), Harlan County 2-10 (McHargue 1-3, Johnson 1-3, Green 0-1, McDaniel 0-1, Rebecca Middleton 0-2). Rebounds: Harlan 24 (M. King 8, Haywood 5, N. King 3, Canady 2, Wilson 2, Charles 1, Wynn 1, Thompson 1), Harlan County 38 (Green 9, Cox 8, Turner 7, Johnson 4, McDaniel 3, Rebecca Middleton 2, McHargue 1). Turnovers: Harlan 23, Harlan County 12. Fouled out: None.