Word is getting around about high-scoring freshman point guard Jordan Brock, making now a good time for the Harlan Lady Dragons to diversify their offense – and that’s exactly what they did Tuesday.
Senior guard Jourdan Ledford broke out of an offensive slump with 14 points, and Torri Mitchell came off the bench to add 13 along with several key defensive plays as the Lady Dragons held on for a 59-54 lead against visiting North Laurel on Tuesday.
Brock still led all scorers with 19 points despite missing a chunk of the third quarter after tweaking her ankle, but Harlan coach Derrick Akal was pleased with the way Mitchell and Ledford attacked the basket.
“When Jordan goes out, we expect Torri to be able to handle the ball, and she can,” he said. “She’s a point guard in a bigger girl’s body. We feel like, if she’s aggressive, we’re a better team. She was going to pass up her second shot because she missed the first one, but she puts some pressure on the defense because she’s capable of hitting that shot, and Jourdan’s capable of hitting that shot. As teams pay more attention to Jordan Brock, they’re going to get better looks.”
Mitchell, a junior, was also the team’s defensive sparkplug, coming up with several steals and deflections as the Lady Dragons hassled North Laurel into 19 turnovers.
“I give a lot of credit to Torri,” Akal said. “I think she had four steals and a bunch of deflections. She made it tough for them to get open looks. Defensively, I thought the matchup kind of bothered them a little bit. They had some open 3’s in the first half, but we made a good adjustment at halftime to get out there and cover them.”
Harlan (4-4) missed its first six shots as the Lady Jaguars raced to an 8-0 lead, led by a pair of 3-pointers from Hannah Gray. Emma Bianchi scored at the 5:22 mark to put the Lady Dragons on the board. Another trey, this one by reserve guard Madison Shepherd, with 3:03 left in the period gave North Laurel a nine-point cushion, but the Lady Dragons closed the quarter with a 7-3 run to cut their deficit to 18-13.
Ledford and Brock each nailed a 3-pointer, and Mitchell scored on a putback at the 2:24 mark in the second quarter to knot the score at 23-23. The Lady Jaguars reclaimed the lead on another 3 by Shepherd, but Harlan answered with a trey by Mitchell, who then stole the ball and connected with McKenzie King for a layup to put the Lady Dragons on top 31-28 at the half.
Harlan opened the third quarter with a 7-1 run that included two baskets by Brock and one by Bianchi. Mitchell and Ledford each added another 3-pointer late in the quarter as the Lady Dragons extended their lead by 46-38 heading into the final period.
The Lady Jaguars mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter, hassling Harlan into four quick turnovers after the Lady Dragons committed just nine in the first three periods. Harlan led 49-40 with 6:49 remaining before an 8-1 run by the Lady Jaguars that included another 3 by Shepherd and a pair of baskets by Hannah Lawson to pull within two.
The Lady Dragons pushed the lead back to six, but North Laurel answered again, pulling back within two on a couple of occasions, the last with 47 seconds remaining. Harlan was able to run almost 30 seconds off the clock before Gray chased down Mitchell, who hit the first free throw but missed the second. Bruner’s layup was off the mark, and Ledford hit a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
Bruner paced North Laurel (0-7) with 15 points, and Gray added 11.
The Lady Dragons return to action Thursday with a district matchup at Middlesboro. North Laurel will travel to Logan County to take on Livingston Central in the First Southern National Bank Classic on Dec. 26.
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The Lady Dragons pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 34-27 victory in the junior varsity contest Tuesday.
Shanae Thomas and McKenzie King scored 15 and 10 points, respectively, to lead Harlan. Katie King and Leah Evans each scored four, and Madie Henson added one.
Madison Shepherd led the Lady Jaguars with nine points, and Ashley Raines added seven.
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Harlan (59) — Jordan Brock 19, Jourdan Ledford 14, Masie Charles 0, Kaitlin Jenkins 2, Emma Bianchi 8, Torri Mitchell 13, McKenzie King 2, Shanae Thomas 1.
North Laurel (54) — Hannah Lawson 8, Hannah Gray 11, Kayla Bruner 15, Ashley Raines 5, Makayla Sexton 3, Madison Shepherd 9, Kelsey Chestnut 3, Bella Delapena 0, Ella Hamm 0, Makayla Allen 0.