Lady Bears hold off Middlesboro

By Paul Lunsford

After taking a 16-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Harlan County Lady Bears had to hold off a pesky Middlesboro team to win 57-54 at home on Saturday afternoon.

“Everything looks easy when the ball goes in the hole,” said Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan. “We make it look a little more difficult than it should’ve been in the fourth quarter.”

The game feature several spurts by both teams.

The Lady Jackets had a 10-0 run midway through the opening quarter, behind six points from Grace Gent.

Harlan County used an 11-1 run as Ella Karst had two baskets and Kellybeth Hoskins nailed a 3-pointer.

The Lady Bears opened the second half with an 11-2 spurt with Jacey Lewis nailing a pair of 3s and Hoskins adding another.

Harlan County closed the third quarter with an 8-1 run with four different Lady Bears scoring.

Keeri Betts scored five points and Kailey Owens had four during an 11-0 run by Middlesboro to pull within 51-50 with 1:40 to play.

A putback by Kassy Owens gave HC a three point lead at the 1:09 mark.

Following a free throw by Betts, Kellybeth Hoskins sunk two free throws to make it 55-51.

Gent hit three of four free throws in the final minute, but Karst hit two from the strip as the Lady Bears escaped with the victory.

“Early on, they hit some early shots and we missed some early shots,” said Nolan. Once we got into a little bit of a rhythm the whole complection of game is different. I know we got more shot attempts and that’s a big factor for us.”

“We got out to a pretty good lead and in the second quarter, we got a little wore down and got into foul trouble,” said Middlesboro coach Scott Overbay. “We get into foul trouble at the guard position and we struggle. I think we had 20 turnovers in the first half.”

Karst, a freshman guard, powered the Lady Bears with 23 points and five assists. Lewis scored 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Hoskins added eight points.

Gent led Middlesboro with 20 points, including 12 of 14 free throws. Kailey Owens poured in 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

“We had a good desuation between (3rd and 4th) quarters and finally started playing again,” said Overbay. “My kids they hustled really well and played hard. They gave everything they had.”

The Lady Jackets stayed in the game by hitting 23 of 28 free throws for 82 percent.

“That was my focus at halftime,” Nolan said of the free throws by Middlesboro. “They were getting to the free throw line and we weren’t. We were settling for jump shots.

“We focused on that at halftime and fought back.”

Both teams shot 37 percent for the field. Harlan County hit 22 of 60 while Middlesboro connected on 15 of 37.

The Lady Jacket held a 29-27 rebounding advantage. Middlesboro committed 22 turnovers compared to HC’s nine.

The two teams will meet again in the opening round of the 52nd District Tournament at Harlan High School during the week of March 15.

Harlan County (8-9) travels to Knott Central on Monday. The Lady Bears will visit Pineville on Thursday and plays host to Knox Central on Saturday.

Middlesboro (7-13) entertains Corbin on Monday, travels to Williamsburg on Thursday and will host Owsley County on Saturday.

Taylor Asher completed a three-point play in the closing seconds Thursday as Clay County edged visiting Harlan County 44-43.

Asher powered the Lady Tigers with 16 points as Clay improved to 6-7 on the season. Madison Curry contributed nine points. Jaylen Combs tossed in seven. Mackenzie Sizemore added six.

Karst paced HC with 12 points. Lewis followed with 11 points Jaylin Smith scored 10. Hoskins added eight points while Taylor Lunsford had two.

Harlan County took a 14-8 advantage after one quarter.

Both teams poured in 10 points in the second period as the Lady Bears led 24-18 at the break.
Clay County cut the deficit to 35-31 entering the final quarter.

HC won 41-17 in the junior varsity game as Leah Davis led the way with 10 points.

Taytum Griffin tallied eight points and was followed by Hailey Austin with seven. Lunsford, Jenna Wilson and Haley Middleton added four each for the Lady Bears. Jones and Paige Phillips had two each.

MIDDLESBORO (7-13)
Grace Gent 4-5 12-14 20, Mallory James 2-3 2-2 6, Kailey Owens 6-14 0-1 12, Keeri Betts 3-11 9-11 16, Anna Myers 0-3 0-0 0, Areeza Ahmad 0-0 0-0 0, Malaya Brown 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 15-37 23-28 54.

HARLAN COUNTY (8-9)
Ella Karst 9-19 4-4 23, Jacey Lewis 5-11 0-0 14, Jaylin Smith 1-4 0-0 2, Kellybeth Hoskins 2-7 2-2 8, Kassy Owens 2-8 0-0 4, Kylie Jones 1-5 0-0 2, Taylor Lunsford 0-1 0-0 0, Hailey Austin 1-3 0-0 2, Taytum Griffin 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 22-60 6-6 57.

Middlesboro 16 10 05 23 – 54
Harlan County 07 19 19 12 – 57

3-Point goals: Middlesboro 1-10 (Betts 1-3, Gent 0-1, James 0-1, Owens 0-5), Harlan County 7-23 (Lewis 4-10, Hoskins 2-7, Karst 1-5, Austin 0-1). Rebounds: Middlesboro 29 (Owens 10, Gent 8, Myers 4, James 2, Betts 2, Ahmad 2, Brown 1), Harlan County 27 (Owens 9, Hoskins 6, Lewis 3, Smith 3, Lunsford 3, Karst 2, Griffin 1). Assists: Middlesboro 3 (Gent 2), Harlan County 7 (Karst 5). Turnovers: Middlesboro 22, Harlan County 9. Fouled out: Harlan County (Smith, Jones).