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King powers Lady Dragons past Jackson

After a sluggish first half Saturday against visiting Jackson City, the Harlan Lady Dragons found what worked for them in the third quarter with a steady diet of Natalee King, who hit four straight shots to give her team a four-point lead.

The Lady Dragons then somehow forgot what worked for them during the fourth quarter and almost watched the game get away before a free throw by King in the final seconds forced an overtime.

Down by four with 38 seconds left in overtime, the Lady Dragons rallied for a third time and won 71-70 on two free throws by King with eight-tenths of a second left. King, a junior forward, finished with 33 points and 14 rebounds.

“We’ve had a mismatch with Natalee the last couple of nights and had a lot of success with her in the third quarter,” Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm said. “We got away from what was working. I think sometimes players worry they have been doing something too long and get a wild hair to change it. I’m proud of the way we battled back today though and gave ourselves a chance to win.”

Senior guard Payeton Charles added 19 points for the 7-17 Lady Dragons, who got off to a slow start after an emotional game a night earlier at Harlan County. Jackson built a 17-12 lead after one quarter as HHS missed 12 of 16 shots from the field.

“The first half we were a step slow. I felt we had a little hangover from last night,” Hamm said.

Charles hit three shots in the second quarter, tying the game at 22 with a steal and layup. After several other ties late in the half, Jackson took a 33-31 advantage at the break as BreAnna Tincher hit four straight free throws.

Like a night earlier at Harlan County, King dominated the third quarter as she hit four of six shots. Harlan took a 48-44 lead into the fourth period.

The game was tied five times in the fourth quarter, including 60-60 at the end of regulation as King hit one of two with 39.5 seconds left. Harlan’s Savanna Smith missed at the line with 21 seconds to play and King missed a potential game-winner in the closing seconds.

Jackson took an early lead in overtime before a 3-pointer by Charles tied the game again, this time at 65. Jackson scored the next four points before Harlan rallied again. Charles scored off a turnover and King hit one of two with 13.7 seconds left to tie the game again. Tincher hit one of two to give Jackson a one-point lead with 8.1 seconds left.

Harlan’s Ella Karst threw up a 3-pointer as the final seconds ticked away. King grabbed the rebound out of the air and drew a foul as she put up a shot. She hit both shots to clinch the win.

Tincher and Elizabeth McIntosh each scored 16 to lead the 9-12 Lady Tigers, who defeated Harlan by four points early in the season at Jackson. Savanna Hopkins and Megan Ernst added 10 points each.

Harlan will be at home against Bell County on Tuesday in a girls/boys district doubleheader. The Lady Dragons could force a tie for the third seed in the 52nd District Tournament with a win and could lock up the third seed with wins over Bell and Middlesboro (at home on Saturday).

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Sophomore guard Ella Morton poured in 17 points as Harlan rolled to a 50-18 win in junior varsity action.

Reagan Jones added 10 for the Lady Dragons, followed by Makayla Sizemore with eight, Emma Owens with six, Faith Hoskins with five and Aymani Wynn and Campbell Nunez with two each.

Riley Turner led Jackson City with seven points.

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Harlan 71, Jackson City 70 (OT)

JACKSON CITY (9-12)

BreAnna Tincher 3-6 10-19 16, Elizabeth McIntosh 5-12 4-6 16, Savanna Hopkins 3-6 2-4 10, Breanna Stamper 2-2 0-2 4, Megan Ernst 4-12 2-3 10, Faith Moore 1-4 1-1 3, Julie Hollan 3-4 0-0 6, Riley Turner 1-2 2-4 5. Totals: 23-49 21-39 70.

HARLAN (7-17)

Payeton Charles 7-20 1-2 19, Ella Karst 4-10 0-0 8, Savanna Smith 2-10 2-3 7, Natalee King 8-18 17-24 33, Alli Thompson 0-0 0-2 0, Angel Wynn 1-3 0-0 2, Kaylee Leslie 1-1 0-0 2, Reagn Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Peighton Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Madison Cole 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-64 20-31 71.

Jackson City 17 16 11 16 10 — 70

Harlan 12 19 17 12 11 — 71

3-point goals: Jackson City 3-6 (McIntosh 2-3, Turner 1-2, Moore 0-1), Harlan 5-19 (Charles 4-10, Smith 1-6, R. Jones 0-1, Karst 0-2). Rebounds: Jackson City 30 (Ernst 10, Hollan 7, Hopkins 5, Tincher 2, McIntosh 2, Stamper 2, Moore 2), Harlan 38 (King 14, Thompson 6, Smith 5, Wynn 4, Leslie 4, Charles 2, Karst 2, P. Jones 1). Turnovers: Jackson City 18, Harlan 14. Fouled out: Jackson City (Hopkins, Ernst, Hollan), Harlan (Thompson).