Lady Bears earn record-breaking title

Published 11:30 pm Thursday, February 22, 2018

MIDDLESBORO — In a season of record-breaking domination in the 52nd District, the Harlan County Lady Bears set one more record in winning their second straight 52nd District Tournament title on Thursday at Middlesboro HIgh School.

Harlan County (25-2) took control ln the second quarter on the way to a 71-35 win over Harlan in the championship game, breaking the previous record for margin of victory set in 1977 when Cawood defeat Cumberland 68-35. The Lady Bears have won their eight district games this year by an average of just over 34 points a game, with none closer than 24 points.

The Lady Bears followed a familiar formula for success, using their long and athletic lineup to dominate the game defensively. Up by two points going into the second quarter, HCHS rushed the Harlan offense into missing 11 of its first 12 shots to take control of the game. Harlan shot only 26 percent (14 of 53) from the field and was outrebounded 41-29.

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“I thought we made them force some shots and got them a little tired,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said. “I thought our defense was good. We turned it over a few too many times in the second half because we wanted to run, and that works out for us about 80 percent of the time. I thought overall we played well, including our kids off the bench – Ree (Middleton) is playing well, Shelby (McDaniel) is playing well and Morgan Napier is playing great. We need all those kids. It’s a total team effort.”

“We didn’t shoot well, obviously,” Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm said. “We were sticking with our game plan early, but when things started going bad we didn’t calm it down. That’s a credit to them. If we could put together two halfs or three quarters against them we would be in much better shape, but you can’t have one good quarter. They are a tough matchup for a lot of teams.”

Senior guard Blair Green earned tournament most valuable player honors with a 26-point performance, hitting 10 of 18 shots from the field. Junior guard K.K. Johnson provided a perimeter threat as she hit three 3-pointers in an 11-point night.

Harlan (16-15), the two-time defending 13th Region champ, was led by senior forward Mackenzie King with 13 points.

Mackenzie King and Natalee King had consecutive baskets midway through the opening quarter as Harlan took its first and only lead at 9-8. Green had a 3-pointer and field goal sandwiched around a basket by Harlan’s Taylor Simpson as the Lady Bears took a 13-11 lead into the second period.

“We knew they wouldn’t just roll over. It’s a rival game and they have a lot of tradition. Tiffany has done a great job with them, and I knew they would play us hard,” Green said. “I think we finally wore them down.”

Harlan went cold in the second period and the Lady Bears took control as Green had two baskets to start an 18-3 run. Natalee King broke a five-minute scoring drought in the closing seconds of the half to pull Harlan within 15, at 31-16, by halftime.

The Lady Dragons got as close as 10 early in the third quarter before Johnson turned the momentum back to Harlan County with two straight 3-pointers. Napier, Green and Cox had baskets in a 10-2 run that gave the Lady Bears a 52-26 advantage going into the final quarter.

Green was joined on the all-tournament team by Cox, Johnson, McHargue and Breann Turner. Mackenzie King, Noah Canady, Taylor Simpson and Payeton Charles represented Harlan. Hannah Warren and Jamaya Poe represented Middlesboro. Abby Harris and Karlee Cox were selected from Bell County.

Both teams advance to the 13th Region Tournament opening Monday at The Corbin Arena.


Harlan County 71, Harlan 35

HARLAN (16-15)

Payeton Charles 2-15 0-0 4, Noah Canady 1-9 0-0 2, Taylor Simpson 2-5 0-1 4, Mackenzie King 4-15 5-7 13, Brandi Haywood 2-2 0-0 4, Natalee King 2-4 1-1 5, Katelyn Burkhart 1-2 0-0 2, Alli Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Angel Wynn 0-0 1-2 1, Ella Morton 0-0 0-0 0, Makayla Sizemore 0-0 0-0 0, Kaylee Leslie 0-1 0-0 0. Totals:’ 14-53 7-11 35.


Phebe McHargue 1-3 1-4 3, K.K. Johnson 4-8 0-0 11, Blair Green 10-18 5-6 26, Lainey Cox 3-5 1-1 7, Breann Turner 2-6 2-2 6, Shelby McDaniel 1-4 1-1 3, Morgan Napier 2-4 0-0 4, Reanna Middleton 2-2 2-2 6, Morgan Blakley 0-0 2-2 2, Hannah Wood 1-1 0-0 3, Macie Napier 0-1 0-0 0, Kelly Beth Hoskins 0-0 0-0 0, Kassy Owens 0-0 0-0 0, Jacey Lewis 0-1 0-0 0, Dixie Ewing 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-52 14-18 71.

Harlan 11 5 10 9 — 35

Harlan County 13 18 21 19 — 71

3-point goals: Harlan 0-12 (Simpson 0-1, Leslie 0-1, M. King 0-2, Charles 0-4, Canady 0-5), Harlan County 5-12 (Johnson 3-5, Wood 1-1, Green 1-2, McHargue 0-1, Macie Napier 0-1, McDaniel 0-2). Rebounds: Harlan 29 (M. King 9, Canady 7, Charles 5, Simpson 3, N. King 3, Haywood 1, Burkhart 1), Harlan County 41 (Cox 12, Turner 7, Green 5, Morgan Napier 5, McHargue 4, Middleton 2, Macie Napier 2, Johnson 1, McDaniel 1, Blakley 1 Wood 1). Turnovers: Harlan 12, Harlan County 17. Fouled out: None.