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Lady Bears reach 100 in rout of Knox

To borrow a line from the late, great Tom Petty, first-year Knox Central coach Jamie Sowders has taught his Lady Panthers to never back down.

The strategy has worked through the first half of the season as the Lady Panthers have already matched last year’s win total with seven and have played several other teams close.

It didn’t work quite as well Tuesday against visiting Harlan County, the state’s 22nd-ranked team. The Lady Bears knew they were in a battle in a fast-paced, physical contest that featured three technicals, 51 turnovers and 167 points, but Harlan County was in control all the way in a 101-66 victory.

“I try to tell my girls, don’t back down from nobody, whether it’s Harlan County or whether it’s Oneida Baptist or Red Bird or whoever,” Sowders said. “I want them to play with a chip on their shoulder and not just roll out the red carpet for anybody. I want to make them earn everything they get.”

“They wanted to run and really played us hard. I thought it was good for us,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said. “I thought we responded well and our defense was good.”

Knox Central focused its box-and-chaser on Harlan County all-state guard Blair Green, but the University of Kentucky recruit continued her recent offensive explosion with a 33-point effort on 13-of-17 shooting.

Presley Partin did a great Blair Green imitation on the other side as the freshman guard exploded for 32 points, hitting six 3-pointers.

“When she wants to go, she can go. I’m proud of her,” Sowders said. “She can obviously shoot it. She has to get better on the defensive side.”

“She really shot it well and she hit some shots right in our face,” Green said.

The difference was Green had much more help with six Lady Bears in double figures. K.K. Johnson scored 16 points, followed by Shelby McDaniel with 14, Lainey Cox with 12 and Phebe McHargue and Breann Turner with 10 each.

“They get up and down the floor and are a lot faster than we are,” Sowders said. “We worked all week on getting back on defense, but we didn’t most of the time. They are more athletic and faster than us.”

“We shot it pretty well and shared the ball,” Green said. “Our girls are playing hard and playing together.”

Maddie Pennington came off the bench to score 13 for the 7-8 Lady Panthers.

Green had three baskets in the opening period to lead Harlan County, which raced to an 11-1 lead and stayed in control. Partin kept Knox Central in the game early as she scored five of the Lady Panthers’ six baskets in the quarter, including two 3-pointers.

The Lady Bears hit 10 of 15 shots in the quarter and forced six turnovers to build a 25-18 lead.

Already at a pace for 100 points after one quarter despite having Green out for half the period with two fouls, the Lady Bears picked up the pace in the second quarter. Green had three baskets in the period, while McDaniel, Turner and Cox added two each as the lead grew to 58-37 at halftime.

Harlan County hit 10 of 13 shots in the third quarter, led by Green with four baskets. Partin hit four of four to answer as Knox Central trailed 78-56 after three periods.

The Lady Panthers finally ran out of steam in the fourth quarter, missing six of nine shots as Harlan County pulled away with two 8-0 runs to start a running clock with 2:03 to play.

Harlan County (16-2) will play at Lee, Va., on Wednesday.

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Sophomore guard Morgan Blakley scored 18 points as Harlan County (6-1) rolled to a 57-29 win in junior varsity action.

Dixie Ewing and Hannah Wood added eight points each. Kelly Beth Hoskins, Jacey Lewis and Kassy Owens contributed five each. Emily Long and Abby Vitatoe each chipped in with three. Hannah Johnson scored two.

Katie Broughton scored seven and Zoey Liford added six to lead Knox Central.

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The Harlan County junior varsity team suffered its first loss of the season at Clay County, falling 47-31.

Courtney Jones hit five 3-pointers to lead the Lady Tigers with 15 points. Edwina Hacker and Hailey Napier added nine and eight points, respectively.

Morgan Blakley led Harlan County with 11 points. Kelly Beth Hoskins scored eight. Hannah Wood tossed in five. Dixie Ewing added four. Jacey Lewis contributed three.

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Harlan County 101, Knox Central 66

HARLAN COUNTY (16-2)

Phebe McHargue 4-5 0-0 10, K.K. Johnson 5-8 3-4 16, Blair Green 13-17 7-7 33, Lainey Cox 4-4 4-4 12, Breann Turner 4-7 2-3 10, Morgan Napier 1-3 0-0 2, Shelby McDaniel 6-10 2-2 14, Reanna Middleton 1-6 0-0 2, Morgan Blakley 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Wood 0-1 0-0 0, Kelly Beth Hoskins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 38- 61 20-22 101.

KNOX CENTRAL (7-8)

Morgan Warren 1-2 0-0 3, Presley Partin 11-17 4-6 32, Madison Taylor 2-3 2-2 6, Emily Davis 0-1 1-3 1, Ryleigh Swafford 2-5 0-0 4, Abby Mills 2-4 2-4 7, Maddie Pennington 3-7 6-6 13, Zoey Liford 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-40 15-21 66.

Harlan County 25 33 20 23 — 101

Knox Central 18 19 19 10 — 66

3-point goals: Harlan County 5-12 (Johnson 3-6, McHargue 2-2, Middleton 0-1, Wood 0-1, McDaniel 0-2), Knox Central 9-15 (Partin 6-10, Warren 1-1, Pennington 1-1, Mills 1-2, Liford 0-1). Rebounds: Harlan County 23 (Cox 8, Turner 5, McDaniel 4, Johnson 2, Middleton 2, Green 1, Napier 1). Turnovers: Harlan County 17, Knox Central 34. Fouled out: Knox Central (Davis). Technical fouls: Harlan County (Turner), Knox Central (Davis, Pennington).