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Improving defense sends HHS to its third straight win

After wins over Middlesboro and Pineville, Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm suggested her Lady Dragons had figured out what she wanted on defense.

Harlan (11-9) made another step in the right direction Monday as the Lady Dragons avenged a three-point home loss last month with a convincing 59-42 victory in the rematch.

Junior guard Payeton Charles was one of four Lady Dragons in double figures with 15 points. Sophomore forward Natalee King added 14 points. Mackenzie King and Taylor Simpson, both seniors, added 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Knox Central was led by Presley Partin, a freshman guard, with 12 points.

“Lately, our kids have really bought into what we are trying to do defensively, and that has led to increases productivity on offense,” Hamm said. “Our guards have really stepped up and given us such a lift on both ends of the floor. I’m super proud of the effort and attention to detail the girls have played with lately.”

Mackenzie King scored eight points and Charles hit two 3-pointers as Harlan built a 14-10 lead after one quarter.

Knox was limited to only seven points in the second quarter as Harlan built a 33-17 lead by the break with the help of five baskets off the bench from Natalee King.

Mackenzie King had five points in the third quarter and Simpson hit two 3-pointers as the lead grew to 49-23 after three periods.

Harlan will play host to Harlan County on Friday.

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Knox Central edged Harlan 34-32 in junior varsity action as Zoey Liford and Ryleigh Swafford scored nine each for the Lady Panthers.

Ella Morton and Angel Wynn led the 1-9 Lady Dragons with 10 points each. Kaylee Leslie and Makayla Sizemore added six and four points, respectively. Alli Thompson scored two.

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HARLAN (11-9)

Payeton Charles 4 4-4 15, Noah Canady 1 2-3 5, Taylor Simpson 4 0-0 10, Mackenzie King 5 2-6 13, Brandi Hawyood 0 0-0 0, Natalee King 7 0-1 14, Whitney Wilson 2-2 2, Alli Thompson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 10-16 59

KNOX CENTRAL (9-9)

Presley Partin 5 0-0 12, Madison Taylor 0 5-6 5, Morgan Warren 1 0-0 3, Emily Davis 0 4-4 4, Ryleigh Swafford 1 2-2 4, Abby Mills 0 4-4 4, Maddie Pennington 2 5-6 10. Totals: 9 20-22 42.

Harlan 14 19 16 10 — 59

Knox Central 10 7 6 19 — 42

3-point goals: Harlan 7 (Charles 3, Simpson 2, Canady 1, M. King 1), Knox Central 4 (Partin 2, Warren 1, Pennington 1).