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Lady Bears roll past Knox Central

One of the 13th Region’s most improved teams, the Knox Central Lady Panthers were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time on Friday.

Harlan County (23-2) capped an unbeaten season at home and against 13th Region competition by blowing past the visiting Lady Panthers 87-56 in the regular season finale for both teams.

“Harlan County has a good team with a good coach and players and eight or nine who can play,” Knox Central coach Jamie Sowders said. “I was proud of our girls. We are a little undersized and don’t have the firepower they do, but they played hard.”

Senior guard Blair Green, who learned earlier in the day she was a finalist for this year’s Miss Basketball honor, scored 28 points with UK coach Matthew MItchell, her future coach, in attendance. Senior forward Lainey Cox also closed out her home career in memorable fashion with a 21-point, 12-rebound performance. The game also marked the home finale for Morgan Napier and Macie Napier, as well as all-state center Kaylea Gross, who has been sidelined since December with a knee injury.

“This group has been with me since I got here and they’ve bought into what I’ve tried to do,” said Harlan County coach Debbie Green. “It was great to see them have another great season and be excited about the district (tournament). I’m real proud of the work they have put in every day, both in the gym and classroom. They closed it out with a great game tonight.”

Knox Central (10-14) was led by senior guard Maddie Pennington with 19 points. Presley Partin and Emily Davis added 14 and 12 points, respectively.

The Lady Panthers stayed close early with Pennington hitting a pair of 3-pointers, but Green answered with two 3-pointers for the Lady Bears. Macie Napier and Cox also had two baskets as HCHS built a 23-14 lead.

Cox hit all four of her shots in the second quarter as the Lady Bears pulled got their transition game going with a four-guard lineup that overwhelmed Knox in a 14-5 run to open the period. Green also had three baskets as Harlan County built a 48-26 lead at halftime.

Green had four more baskets in the third quarter while Shelby McDaniel came off the bench to score inside and hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 67-36 going into the final period.

Harlan County will play Middlesboro on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the first round of the 52nd District Tournament at Middlesboro. Knox Central plays Barbourville on Monday in the 50th District Tournament.

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Sophomore guard Morgan Blakley scored 14 points as Harlan County closed its junior varsity schedule at 10-2 with a 45-16 win.

Dixie Ewing and Kelly Beth Hoskins added six points each. Hannah Johnson, Emily Long, Jacey Lewis and Kassy Owens chipped in with four points each. Hannah Wood scored three.

Katie Broughton led Knox Central with eight points. Zoey Liford scored five. Anna Vaughn contributed two. Monica Brown scored one.

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Harlan County 87, Knox Central 56

KNOX CENTRAL (10-14)

Maddie Pennington 7-9 1-2 19, Presley Partin 5-13 2-2 14, Madison Taylor 1-3 0-0 2, Ryleigh Swafford 1-4 0-0 2, Emily Davis 5-12 2-2 12, Morgan Warren 0-2 0-0 0, Abby Mills 1-8 3-4 5, Monica Brown 0-1 0-1 0, Zoey Liford 1-1 0-0 2, Anna Vaughn 0-0 0-0 0, Katie Broughton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-54 8-11 56.

HARLAN COUNTY (23-2)

Phebe McHargue 1-7 0-0 2, Blair Green 13-22 0-0 28, Macie Napier 2-5 0-0 4, Morgan Napier 1-2 3-4 5, Lainey Cox 9-13 3-6 21, K.K. Johnson 2-10 0-0 6, Breann Turner 2-4 0-0 4, Shelby McDaniel 2-5 0-0 5, Reanna Middleton 4-6 0-0 9, Morgan Blakley 1-2 0-0 2, Hannah Wood 1-1 0-0 3, Kelly Beth Hoskins 0-0 0-0 0, Dixie Ewing 0-0 0-0 0, Jacey Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Kassy Owens 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 37-78 6-11 87.

Knox Central 14 12 10 20 — 56

Harlan County 23 25 19 20 — 87

3-point goals: Knox Central 6-20 (Pennington 4-5, Partin 2-6, Davis 0-1, Warren 0-1, Mills 0-7), Harlan County 7-19 (Green 2-3, Johnson 2-6, McDaniel 1-1, Wood 1-1, Middleton 1-3, Macie Napier 0-1, Blakley 0-1, McHargue 0-3). Rebounds: Knox Central 33 (Davis 11, Swafford 8, Mills 5, Partin 4, Taylor 3, Broughton 1), Harlan County 41 (Cox 12, Green 9, Morgan Napier 5, McDaniel 3, Blakley 3, McHargue 2, Johnson 2, Middleton 2, Macie Napier 1, Turner 1, Ewing 1). Turnovers: Knox Central 16, Harlan County 8. Fouled out: None.