Lady Bears shake off slow start, down KC

Published 9:50 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2019

When the Harlan County Lady Bears struggled uncharacteristically from close range Tuesday night against visiting Knox Central, they relied on stifling defense and a strong first-half performance by one of the many veteran guards in their arsenal. When the transition game came alive in the second half, a 10-point halftime lead quickly became a rout.

The Lady Bears hit 20 of 33 shots in the second half, many on fast breaks, and capitalized on 20 Knox Central turnovers to cruise to a 76-40 victory.

“I was really pleased with our defense man-to-man,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said. “We’re usually a zone team, but our zone didn’t look real good so we went to man-to-man. We did a good job of talking on defense, helping and hedging.”

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The Lady Bears struggled around the basket early on, missing numerous layups and short-range shots. But senior guard Reanna Middleton stepped up to pour in 14, including a perfect 5-for-5 performance with a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter as Harlan County’s lead grew from one to 10.

“I don’t usually see us brick layups; that’s not characteristic of us,” Green said. “We had a lot of good looks and just missed some easy ones.

“Our kids don’t worry who’s going to lead us in scoring every night. It’s always different, and they’re so consistent.”

Harlan County (15-3) pushed the pace after the break, turning most of the Lady Panthers’ 11 second-half turnovers into transition baskets. Senior point guard Phebe McHargue hit five of six shots in the third quarter, scoring 12 points in the period as the Lady Bears broke the game open.

Middleton led all scorers with 20 points, and McHargue added 18. Morgan Blakley, a junior, added 10. Senior Breann Turner pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds.

Knox Central was led by Ryleigh Swafford and Emily Davis with 16 and 12 points, respectively.

Green was pleased with her team’s defensive effort against Knox Central’s Presley Partin. The Lady Panthers’ leading scorer on the season was limited to three points on 1-for-13 shooting.

“We did a really good job of containing their better players,” she said. “Partin had three, and (Caylan) Mills had six, and those are two excellent players. To hold them like that says a lot about our defense.”

The Lady Bears return to action Saturday at Pike County Central. Knox Central (8-9) will travel to Hazard on Saturday.


Harlan County 76, Knox Central 40

Knox Central (8-9)

Zoey Liford 1-3 1-2 3, Caylan Mills 2-3 1-2 6, Presley Partin 1-13 0-0 3, Ryleigh Swafford 7-13 2-5 16, Emily Davis 3-3 6-8 12, Emily Mills 0-1 0-0 0, Katie Broughton 0-0 0-0 0, Monica Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Timberly Fredrick 0-1 0-0 0, Paige Sharp 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-38 10-17 40.

Harlan County (15-3)

Phebe McHargue 8-12 2-2 18, K.K. Johnson 2-5 5-6 9, Reanna Middleton 9-12 0-0 20, Morgan Blakley 5-8 0-0 10, Breann Turner 4-11 0-0 8, Hannah Wood 2-3 0-0 4, Jacey Lewis 1-2 0-0 2, Kassydee Owens 1-2 0-0 2, Kelly Beth Hoskins 1-3 0-0 3, Hailey Middleton 0-1 0-2 0, Jaylin Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Jaylin Preston 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 33-59 7-10 76.

Knox Central.13. 9. 13. 5. — 40

Harlan County 14. 18. 21. 23 — 76

3-point goals: Knox Central 2-8 (C.Mills 1-1, Partin 1-6, Fredrick 0-1), Harlan County 3-6 (R.Middleton 2-4, Hoskins 1-1, Johnson 0-1). Rebounds: Knox Central 21 (Davis 11), Harlan County 35 (Turner 13). Turnovers: Knox Central 20, Harlan County 5. Fouled out: None.