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Defense sparks HHS in 4-game streak

For the last four games, the Harlan Lady Dragons have relied on defense and it’s paying off. Harlan extended its winning streak to four with a 63-38 victory over visiting Floyd Central on Wednesday.

“Our defense has been much improved,” said Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm. “That’s allowing us to get out and go a little bit better, offensively.

“Anytime, you can get some buckets in transition, that just helps your confidence and the rim looks a little bigger.”

Senior forward Mackenzie King powered the Lady Dragons with 24 points and nine rebounds. Noah Canady scored 12 points, while Payeton Charles and Natalee King added 10 points each.

“Mackenzie has been playing really well,” said Hamm. “I felt like our guards are coming along and started to score some points, which allows teams not to double and triple team Mackenzie.

Seventh-grade guard Abby Maggard led Floyd Central (11-7) with 12 points.

“They have an outstanding record and have beaten some pretty good teams,” Hamm said. “I felt like if we played defense inside the paint, that would help out a lot. We wanted to come out and pack it in and make them prove they can hit it from outside, and they didn’t. That allowed us to do what we wanted to do defensively.”

Mackenzie King and Canady each nailed a pair of 3-pointers as Harlan raced to a 15-8 lead. Floyd Central closed the opening quarter with back-to-back jumpers but trailed by three after one period.

The Lady Dragons forced Floyd Central into eight turnovers in the second quarter. A pair of three-point plays by Mackenzie King and another by Natalee King helped Harlan push its lead to 26-19 with 4:53 remaining in the first half.

Two baskets by Mackenzie King and a 3-pointer by Canady sparked an 11-0 run as the lead grew to 36-21 lead at halftime.

Both teams struggled on offense in the third quarter. Floyd Central committed eight turnovers as the Lady Dragons outscored the Lady Jaguars 7-6 in the period and took a 43-27 advantage into the final quarter.

Baskets by Taylor Simpson and Mackenzie King and a pair of free throws by Canady extended the lead to 49-29.

The Lady Dragons hit 10 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter and connected on five of seven from the field.

Harlan outrebounded the Lady Jaguars 26-19. Floyd Central had 22 turnovers compared to 16 for the Lady Dragons.

Harlan (12-9) returns to action Friday in a girls/boys doubleheader at home against Harlan County. The Lady Dragons are scheduled to visit Floyd Central on Saturday, Leslie County on Monday and Bell County on Tuesday.

Floyd Central visits Lawrence County (14-5) on Friday.

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Floyd Central jumped out to a 14-2 lead after one quarter and rolled to a 34-8 win in the junior varsity game.

Grace Martin, Amelia Wallace and Kennedy Harvel each led the Lady Jaguars with six points apiece.

Ella Morton paced Harlan (1-9) with six points. Kaylee Leslie scored two.

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Harlan 63, Floyd Central 38

FLOYD CENTRAL (11-7)

Katie Moore 4-15 0-0 8, Abby Maggard 4-7 3-4 12, Brooke Stumbo 1-5 1-3 3, Kaylee Moore 3-8 3-3 9, Grace Martin 2-2 0-0 4, Savannah Watkins 1-1 0-0 2, Amelia Wallace 0-0 0-0 0, Kim Akers 0-1 0-0 0, Juda Johnson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-39 7-10 38.

HARLAN (12-9)

Noah Canady 3-5 4-6 12, Payeton Charles 3-6 2-4 10, Taylor Simpson 2-5 0-0 4, Brandi Haywood 1-4 0-0 2, MacKenzie 8-14 6-8 24, Natalee King 3-5 4-4 10, Whitney Wilson 0-2 1-2 1, Katelyn Burkhart 0-2 0-0 0, Angel Wynn 0-0 0-0 0, Kaylee Leslie 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-43 17-24 63.

Floyd Central 12 9 6 11 — 38

Harlan 15 21 7 20 — 63

3-Point goals: Floyd Central 1-7 (Maggard 1-3, Katie Moore 0-4), Harlan 6-16 (Canady 2-3, M. King 2-3, Charles 2-4, Haywood 0-1, Burkhart 0-1, Simpson 0-2, Wilson 0-2). Rebounds: Floyd Central 19 (Kaylee Moore 5, Katie Moore 4, Martin 3, Akers 3, Stumbo 2, Maggard 2), Harlan 26 (M. King 9, Haywood 5, Simpson 4, N. King 4, Charles 2, Wilson 2). Assists: Floyd Central 2 (Katie 1, Stumbo 1), Harlan 10 (M. King 5). Turnovers: Floyd Central 22, Harlan 16. Fouled out: Floyd Central (None), Harlan (None).