Lady Bears knock off Hazard as Karst pours in 43

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024

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By John Henson

Contributing Sports Writer

Winners in five of their last six games, the Harlan County Lady Bears appear to be shaking off their early-season growing pains. They put together their best performance of the season on Thursday in a surprisingly convincing 70-52 win over visiting Hazard.

Hazard, which fell to 8-8 on the season, is ranked among the 14th Region’s top teams and owns a win over Bell County this season. The Lady Dogs hit only four of nine shots in the opening quarter and fell behind 20-9. They spent the rest of the night trying to catch up.

“We came out struggling early on, and we had some good looks around the rim. That’s who we are, and we just missed them. That kind of changed the tone of the game,” Hazard coach Todd Howard said.

Senior guard Ella Karst carried the Harlan County offense, much as she has for most of her high school career, with a 43-point explosion.

The 7-8 Lady Bears also got a big lift from seventh grade guard Reagan Clem with 10 points and sophomore Whitney Rhymer with seven points.

“That’s a big jump from seventh grade, but she is playing a big role for us,” Nolan said. “Cheyenne was also more consistent tonight. I’m very proud of her. She had been playing timid, but tonight she played more loose like she does in practice. Reagan and Chey both knocked down some big shots.”

Harlan County owned a 29-18 advantage on the boards, leading to several scores on second shots. Faith Hoskins and Karst each had seven rebounds and Paige Phillips added six,

Karst had four baskets in the opening period to help HC get off to a strong start, then Hoskins closed the period with a 3 for an 11-point lead.

Harlan County hit only four of 12 shots in the second quarter as Hazard closed to within five before Clem stopped the run with a trey, then Karst reeled off seven quick points with the aid of a technical on the Lady Dogs for not having a player on the book. A steal and basket by Karst to close the half extended the Lady Bears’ lead to 34-19 at the break.

Baskets by Karst and Rhymer pushed the advantage to 44-23 with five minutes to play in the third quarter. Hazard responded with its best run of the game, a 12-2 spurt on seventh-of-nine shooting to pull within 11. Clem and Karst answered the call again with six straight points to make the score 52-35 going into the fourth period.

The Lady Bears fell to South Laurel 68-34 on Friday.

They play Bell County on Tuesday.