Harlan ends Bell’s season with 55-33 win
From start to finish, Harlan was in control of Wednesday’s district tournament game against Bell County. Holding the Lady Cats to only three points in the first quarter, the Lady Dragons eased their way into the 52nd District championship with a 55-33 win over Bell.
Harlan stifled the Lady Cat offense limiting Bell to just 17 percent shooting from the field. Bell only shot 42 percent from the free-throw line.
“I felt like we executed our game plan pretty good. Last time we played them they put it on us,” said Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm. “I really challenged the girls. They had won one, we had one won, (so) I knew it was going to be a toss up. I feel like we stuck to our game plan.“
The Lady Dragons jumped out by as much as 17 points in the first quarter and never let off the gas. Hamm said the previous loss to Bell was motivation for keeping the pressure on the Lady Cats throughout the game.
“That loss that Bell put on us earlier is motivation enough. You know they have the firepower to beat you, so once you get a lead you can’t be feeling complacent because they’re a really good team,” said the first-year coach. “We were fortunate to get out to a big lead and we didn’t need to lose it.”
Mackenzie King led the Lady Dragons registering a double-double scoring a team-high 16 points and hauling in 11 rebounds. Noah Canady scored 12 points while shooting at a 50 percent clip.
“We’re going to go as Noah goes. Mackenzie is our horse. She averages 20 (points) and 10 (rebounds), but we go as Noah goes. She’s our point guard. When she is pushing it and she is getting it in the tempo we want to play then we’re good,” said Hamm.
For Bell County, who handed Harlan a 61-42 defeat just two weeks prior, it was a cold shooting night. The Lady Cats couldn’t get a shot to fall scoring only seven field goals from the field.
Only three players scored points during the game. Karlee Cox tallied a game-high 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Abby Harris scored 12 points while going 8-for-11 from the charity stripe. Brittany Davis chipped in three points.
Brea Browning paced Bell County in rebounds with seven off the bench.
“It got away from us early. When you dig yourself a hole like that, it’s hard to claw your way back into it,” said Bell County coach David Teague. “Obviously, we struggled on the offensive side. Shots just weren’t going. You have to give Harlan credit. They did a really good job on the defensive end. They took us out of the things we were trying to do.”
Harlan hit three 3-pointers out of the gate with two coming from Canady to give the Lady Dragons a 9-0 lead. Baskets from Mackenzie King, Payeton Charles and Taylor Simpson gave Harlan an 18-0 lead with 2:00 remaining in the opening quarter.
A 3-pointer by Cox ended Bell’s nearly seven-minute scoring drought and cut the lead to 18-3. A Natalee King layup gave the Lady Dragons a 20-3 lead heading into the second.
Bell County showed improvement on the offensive end in the second period with Harris converting an and-1 to narrow the deficit to 20-6. A Cox layup drew the Lady Cats within 12, but a Mackenzie King free throw gave Harlan a 21-8 lead with 6:11 remaining in the half.
The Lady Dragons’ lead reached beyond 20 points with just over two minutes to play in the half after a Katlyn Burkhart layup brought the score to 31-10. Free throws from Cox and Harris cut the lead back to single digits, 31-16, with 54.2 seconds remaining.
A layup by Brandi Haywood ended the half with Harlan leading 33-16.
Harlan held Bell County to another single digit quarter in the third. After Harris hit a contested jumper to cut the lead to 35-18, the Lady Dragons went on a quick 5-0 run that lasted only a minute but increased the lead to 40-18.
Free throws from Cox cut the lead to under 20, but Harlan ended the frame with a layup from Canady and free throws from Mackenzie King to take a 44-21 lead into the fourth.
Bell County was able to outscore Harlan 12-11 in the final quarter, but it was the Lady Dragons who advanced to the 52nd District championship and secured a spot in the 13th Region Tournament.
Harlan (16-14) will square off against Harlan County (24-2) for the district championship.
Harlan 55, Bell County 33
Payeton Charles 2-7 0-0 5, Noah Canady 5-10 0-3 12, Taylor Simpson 3-4 0-0 7, Mackenzie King 5-13 6-9 16, Brandi Haywood 1-3 0-0 2, Natalee King 5-8 1-1 11, Katelyn Burkhart 1-2 0-0 2, Alli Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Angel Wynn 0-2 0-0 0, Ella Morton 0-0 0-0 0, Makayla Sizemore 0-0 0-0 0, Kaylee Leslie 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-49 7-13 55.
BELL COUNTY (19-10)
Brittany Davis 0-8 3-8 3, Lindsey Bryant 0-3 0-0 0, Abby Harris 2-9 8-11 12, Karlee Cox 5-16 5-8 18, Brittney Cupp 0-2 0-5 0, Brea Browning 0-1 0-2 0, Abby Cornett 0-0 0-0 0, Harlie Pannell 0-0 0-0 0, Mackenzie Griffin 0-0 0-0 0, Laken King 0-1 0-0 0, Courtney Bryant 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 7-40 16-38 33.
Harlan 20 13 11 11 — 55
Bell County 3 13 5 12 — 33
3-point goals: Harlan 4-11 (Canady 2-5, Simpson 1-1, Charles 1-4, M. King 0-1), Bell County 3-19 (Cox 3-11, King 0-1, Bryant 0-2, Davis 0-5). Rebounds: Harlan 41 (M. King 11, Simpson 8, N. King 6, Canady 5, Haywood 5, Thompson 3, Charles 2, Morton 1), Bell County 28 (Browning 7, Cox 6, Bryant 5, Harris 4, Cupp 3, Davis 2, Cornett 1). Turnovers: Harlan 20, Bell County 19. Fouled out: Bell County (Cupp).
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN