HYDEN — The Harlan Lady Dragons showed they can play with the best teams in the mountains during a difficult early season schedule. They are now starting to beat some of those teams. Harlan captured the title of the Hyden Citizen Bank Shootout on Sunday after a 79-68 victory over 14th Region contender Leslie County.
“We have grown. The competition we have faced early in the season has helped us. I have seen an improvement on both ends of the floor,” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal.
The teams exchanged leads 12 times in a high-scoring first half.
Standout junior Katie Moore delivered 12 of her game-high 34 points in the first quarter as the Lady Eagles took a 22-20 advantage. Harlan stayed closed with a 3-point shooting clinic in the period. Senior Jourdan Ledford and junior Masie Charles each drained two treys in the first eight minutes.
The Lady Dragons stayed hot from behind the arc in the second quarter. Torri Mitchell hit a trio of 3-pointers in the period and Ledford added another as Harlan built a 42-36 lead at the half. Mitchell had 13 points in the second quarter and finished with 25 to pace the Lady Dragons.
Mitchell continued to knock down one trey after another in the third quarter as Harlan extended its lead. The junior scored the Lady Dragons’ final nine points of the period, all on 3-point baskets, to help extend the advantage to 64-53. Mitchell accounted for seven of Harlan’s 14 3-pointers in the contest.
‘Torri shoots the ball like that every day in practice. We have been trying to force her to go ahead and shoot it with confidence in the game,” Akal said. “Every day in practice I watch these girls shoot a high percentage. It’s just getting shots up in the games and being able to shoot against good teams.”
Moore had nine points in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Eagles were only able to get as close as eight the rest of the way. Freshman Jordan Brock hit four free throws in the final 42 seconds to help preserve the win. Brock finished with 18 points. Charles contributed 17 points and Ledford added 12 in a balanced offensive output.
“A lot of the girls stepped up today to help out on the offensive end. I have confidence that all of those girls can step up and hit those shots consistently,” Akal said.
Harlan (8-4) returns to action Thursday against Grayson County in the Rafferty’s/Double Dogs Classic at Edmonson County. Leslie County (6-2) will take on Madison Central in the Bourbon County Holiday Tournament on Friday.
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Harlan earned an impressive 70-67 victory over 15th Region favorite Magoffin County in their tournament opener on Saturday.
Brock poured in 29 points as Harlan erased a four-point halftime deficit to edge the Lady Jackets. Ledford added 16 points in the win.
Brock had 21 points as Harlan downed Knox Central 57-39 in the second round. Ledford had 13 points, while Emma Bianchi added 10.
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Harlan (79) — Jordan Brock 18, Masie Charles 17, Jourdan Ledford 12, Kaitlin Jenkins 2, Emma Bianchi 3, Tori Mitchell 25, Katie King 0, Mackenzie King 0, Shanae Thomas 0, Leah Evans 2.
Leslie County (68) — Katelyn Farler 3, Katie Moore 34, Madisyn Combs 13, Emily Griffith 2, Brooke Asher 16, Kaley Collett 0, Elisabeth Day 0, Kelsey Gay 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-47 19-28 68.
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Harlan (57) — Jordan Brock 21, Jourdan Ledford 13, Emma Bianchi 10, Katie King 4, MacKenzie King 3, Shanae Thomas 3, Kaitlin Jenkins 1, Masie Charles 0, Tori Mitchell 0, Leah Evans 0, Madelynn Henson 0.
Knox Central (39) — Tyra McNeil 10, Taylor Patterson 7, Sydni Hammontree 6, Abby Mills 5, Cammie Bargo 4, Toni McCombs 4, Melanie Gregory 2, Rebecca Brown 2, Mariah Barrett 0.
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Harlan (70) — Jordan Brock 29, Jourdan Ledford 16, Emma Bianchi 10, Tori Mitchell 9, Masie Charles 2, Mackenzie 2, Katie King 2, Kaitlin Jenkins 0, Shanae Thomas 0.
Magoffin County (67) — Jamie Castle 27, Madison Reed 14, Jassmine Howard 11, Courtney Gullett 8, Leslie Howard 4, Allyssa Kenard 2, Shanna Howard 0, Alexis Montgomery 0, Kennedy Stacy 0.