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Lady Cards roll past Harlan County in regional

CORBIN — In eight previous first-round games in the 13th Region Tournament, the Harlan County Lady Bears had never lost.

That streak ended Monday, thanks in large part to the machine that is the 2020 South Laurel Lady Cardinals.

South Laurel put on a clinic in a 83-38 rout of the Lady Bears, showing the balance, ball movement and defense that has made them one of the state’s top teams this season.

Senior guard Amerah Steele, headed for Eastern, scored 31 to lead the 24-6 Lady Cards, hitting six 3-pointers in the process. Sydnie Hall and Ally Collett, the other two senior members of the South backcourt, added 14 and 13 points, respectively.

“The girls did a good job of making the extra pass tonight and finding (Steele),” South Laurel Coach Chris Souder said. “She did a great job shooting the ball tonight. When she has games like she did tonight, she’s hard to deal with.”

The 16-12 Lady Bears, who had advanced to the regional finals the previous four years, were led by senior forward Morgan Blakley with 21 points.

“They reminded me of us two years ago when we came here to finish business (winning the regional title). We lost to a better team,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said. “They have a chance to win the tournament and go far in the state”

The Lady Cards shot 45 percent from behind the 3-point line, hitting 15 of 33 attempts for the game and 10 of 20 in the first half.

South raced to a 31-15 lead after one quarter. Blakley did her best to keep HCHS in the game with a couple of early baskets followed by a 3-pointer from Jacey Lewis to make the score 15-11, but Steele hit a pair of 3s in a 16-4 run to close the quarter.

Harlan County trailed 49-29 at halftime and then was limited to six points in the third period as South ran away to build a 71-35 advantage.

South Laurel will play Clay County on Friday at 6 p.m. in the semifinals. North Laurel will play Knox Central on Tuesday at 6 p.m. with Bell County playing Whitley County at 7:30 in first-round games.

Harlan County loses Blakley, Hannah Wood and Dixie Ewing to graduation after finishing second this year in the 52nd District.

“I’m pleased our seniors went out with a winning season,” Green said. “They had a good year, and I’m proud of the effort they gave. I hope the other girls will continue working and getting better and we can get here again next year.”

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South Laurel 83, Harlan County 38

HARLAN COUNTY (16-12)

Hannah Wood 0-1 2-2 2, Jaylin Smith 0-2 0-0 0, Kelly Beth Hoskins 1-5 1-2 4, Morgan Blakley 7-15 6-8 21, Kassy Owens 2-5 0-0 4, Jacey Lewis 1-1 0-0 3, Dixie Ewing 1-1 0-0 2, Jaylin Preston 0-3 1-2 1, Haley Middleton 0-0 0-0 0, Taytum Griffin 0-0 0-1 0, Hailey Austin 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor Lunsford 0-1 1-2 1, Kylie Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Paige Phillips 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 12-35 11-17 38.

SOUTH LAUREL (26-4)

Sydnie Hall 5-10 0-0 14, Ally Collett 5-11 1-3 13, Amerah Steele 12-19 1-2 31, Brianna Howard 1-4 1-2 4, Rachel Presley 3-5 3-5 9, Clara Collins 2-4 0-0 5, Reagan Jones 1-2 0-0 2, Gracie Turner 0-0 0-0 0, Lindsay Cox 1-1 0-0 3, Emily Cox 0-0 0-3 0, Kylie Clem 0-1 0-0 0, Emily Mills 1-4 0-1 2, Corbin Miller 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 31-62 6-15 83.

Harlan County 15 14 6 3 — 38

South Laurel 31 18 22 12. — 83

3-point goals: Harlan County 3-10 (Lewis 1-1, Blakley 1-2, Hoskins 1-4, Wood 0-1, Preston 0-2), South Laurel 15-33 (Steele 6-11, Hall 4-8, Collett 2-6, Collins 1-1, L. Cox 1-1, Howard 1-3, Jones 0-1, Mills 0-1, Miller 0-1). Rebounds: Harlan County 26 (Blakley 6, Wood 4, Hoskins 3, Lewis 3, Lunsford 3, Owens 2, Ewing 2, Smith 1, Preston 1, Austin 1), South Laurel 27 (Presley 7). Assists: Harlan County 9 (Wood 4, Smith 2, Blakley 1 Hoskins 1, Ewing 1), South Laurel 27 (Hall 6). Turnovers: Harlan County 22, South Laurel 5. Fouled out: None