An Enterprise Staff Report
Brooklyn Massingill and Kaitlyn Stittums powered a fourth quarter rally to lift Harlan County to a 66-63 victory over South Laurel in an early season 13th Region showdown on Friday.
“We needed our kids to have to mentally focus. We work on situations every day in practice,” Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan said. “I’m glad we were in a good tough early game where we had to respond, where we had to get a stop and had to get a rebound.”
South Laurel led 51-46 before Massingill hit back-to-back treys to put the Lady Bears up by one. South Laurel went back up by one on a basket by senior center Taylor Arthur, who led the Lady Cards with 19 points, but Massingill nailed another 3 off a Stittums steal to give Harlan County a 57-56 advantage with 3:04 left.
“I think those two are showing why they are leaders,” Nolan said. “Kaitlyn does so many little things with her quick hands and quick feet. She has to learn to quit gambling so much, but she makes a lot of things happen. I knew Brooklyn would want the ball in her hands because I could tell she had the confidence to knock the shots down. We did an excellent job executing. They are a good team.”
Arthur put South Laurel ahead twice more, but Harlan County answered each time, first with a basket from Lauren Lee and then when Stittums came up with the play of the game, scooping up a loose ball after her missed free throw and scoring to put the Lady Bears up 62-60 with 44.9 seconds remaining.
Two more free throws by Stittums stretched the lead to four before Maydson Morris banked in a 3-pointer for a one-point deficit with 3.5 seconds remaining. Two free throws by Massingill with 1.5 seconds left made it a three-point game. After a timeout, Bella Noe stole a long pass to preserve the victory.
Massingill, a freshman guard, finished with 28 points to lead the 2-0 Lady Bears. Stittums, a junior, added 11 points. Junior center Shannon Shackleford came off the bench to contribute nine points and six rebounds with senior center Sarah Evans in foul trouble for much of the night.
Massingill’s first trey in the fourth quarter came after a timeout, and the Lady Bears executed to perfection to spark the comeback.
After several lead changes in the early going, South Laurel built an 11-6 advantage with the help of two baskets off the bench from Brittany Vandeventer. Harlan County responded with an 8-0 run sparked by a 3-pointer by Massingill and baskets by Madison Cornett and Shannon Shackleford. A three-point play by Massingill gave the Lady Bears a 16-15 advantage at the end of the period.
Harlan County maintained a one-point halftime advantage, at 30-29. Both teams hit six of 12 shots in the second quarter. Arthur and Massingill led their respective teams with two baskets each.
A 3-pointer by Lee and basket by Massingill gave Harlan County a five-point lead in the third quarter, but South rallied for a 48-43 advantage by the end of the period by scoring 10 straight points. Even though the Lady Cards were playing without sophomore point guard Karlie Parker, who was attending a soccer showcase at Duke University, they had no turnovers during the third quarter and only three in the second half.
Harlan County returns to action Saturday at 4 p.m. against Pulaski County at McCreary Central in the Southern Kentucky Tip-Off Classic. South Laurel plays host to Whitley County on Tuesday.
Lauren Smith scored 10 of her game-high 14 points in the third quarter as Harlan County built a nine-point lead and then held on for a 35-29 win in the junior varsity game.
McKenzie Farley added six points for the 2-0 Lady Bears. Bella Noe scored five. Bridgett Bennett and Becky Freeman contributed four each. Kaitlin Evans scored two.
Brittany Vandeventer led the 1-1 Lady Cards with eight points. Morgan Madden scored six. Madyson Morris added four. Shelby Davis and Katie Reynolds scored three each. Molly Schafter and Linzee Perkins added two each.
Harlan County (66) — Kaitlyn Stittums 11, Brooklyn Massingill 28, Lauren Lee 10, Keisha Mimes 4, Sarah Evans 2, Bella Noe 0, Madison Cornett 2, Shannon Shackleford 9, Shauntae Lewis 0.
South Laurel (63) —Bailey Miller 3, Preslie Baker 5, Emily Clonce 9, Cassandra Johnson 10, Taylor Arthur 19, Brittany Vandeventer 11, Madyson Morris 6, Morgan Madden 0.