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Lady Bears overcome 25 turnovers to down East Ridge

HYDEN — No longer possessing the star power of the past four years, the Harlan County Lady Bears have embraced the concept of winning ugly with grit and hustle replacing the elite athleticism, length and speed of previous squads.

Harlan County earned its third straight win on Saturday in the Hyden Citizens Bank Classic with an especially ugly 54-42 decision over East Ridge. The Lady Bears overcame 25 turnovers and 34 percent (15 of 44) shooting.

“We were lucky to get a win today. I don’t know if it was dead legs from yesterday (wins over Owsley County and Leslie County), but we were fortunate,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said.

Senior forward Morgan Blakley, the Lady Bears’ only returning starter, continued to lead the way for HCHS with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Blakley, who will play at Union College next season, put the Lady Bears in control by hitting five straight shots in the third quarter then helped them hold off an East Ridge comeback with six rebounds and six-of-six shooting from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.

“That was big for us today, getting some putbacks,” Green said. “But our rotations were bad on defense and we left people open. I’m just happy to get out of here with three wins. We could easily have lost three games this weekend against quality teams. I’m proud of them for finding a way to get those wins. We’ll get better as the year goes on.”

Haley Parks scored 10 points to lead the Lady Warriors, who battled from 19 down early in the fourth quarter to get as close as six.

Led by two baskets from Kassy Owens and a late 3-pointer from Jaylin Preston, the Lady Bears took a 13-10 lead after one quarter.

East Ridge hit only two of 10 shots in the second quarter as Harlan County extended its lead to 21-14 by halftime despite eight turnovers in the period.

Blakley dominated the third quarter as the Lady Bears built a 40-23 advantage going into the fourth period.

The Lady Bears hit only two of eight shots in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over eight times but were able to hang on with Blakley, Owens and Hannah Wood hitting free throws in the final 2:09 after East Ridge cut the deficit to 46-40.

Harlan County (6-3) will return to action Thursday at Red Bird and will return home to face Knott Central on Friday.

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Harlan County 54, East Ridge 42

EAST RIDGE (5-6)

Haley Parks 3-14 2-3 10, Leah Wells 1-2 5-10 7, Kristin Thacker 3-13 0-0 9, Kirsten Easterling 3-8 0-0 6, Rayanna Slone 1-1 0-0 3 Sydney Thacker 1-2 0-1 2, Haleigh Damron 2-4 0-2 5. Totals: 15-44 5-18 42.

HARLAN COUNTY (6-3)

Hannah Wood 2-6 1-2 5, Kelly Beth Hoskins 2-8 0-2 5, Jaylin Smith 2-6 0-0 4, Morgan Blakley 7-11 8-9 22, Kassy Owens 4-11 1-2 9, Jaylin Preston 2-5 0-0 5, Dixie Ewing 1-1 0-0 2, Taytum Griffin 0-0 2-2 2, Kylie Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Kylie Noe 0-2 0-0 0, Taylor Lunsford 0-0 0-0 0. Hailey Austin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-44 12-17 54.

East Ridge 10 4 9 19 — 42

Harlan County 13 8 19 14 — 54

East Ridge 7-20 (K. Thacker 3-9, Parks 2-7, Slone 1-1, Damron 1-2, S. Thacker 0-1), Harlan County 2-16 (Preston 1-4, Hoskins 1-7, Owens 0-1, Wood 0-4). Rebounds: East Ridge 20 (Parks 8, Wells 5, Damron 3, Easterling 2, S. Thacker 2), Harlan County 33 (Blakley 12, Owens 6, Smith 5, Wood 2, Hoskins 2, Preston 2, Ewing 1, Griffin 1, Noe 1, Austin 1). Turnovers: East Ridge 26, Harlan County 25. Technicals: East Ridge (bench).