MIDDLESBORO – Harlan County already boasts wins over contenders in the 13th and 14th Region this year, but the Lady Bears secured their biggest victory of the young season on Friday, knocking off Middlesboro 51-32 to open up district play.
“It’s a big district win and it’s on the road. Middlesboro is struggling a little right now, but it is still a district game and they are always competitive,” said Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan. “It is good to get the first one out of the way.”
Harlan County never trailed and opened with the game’s first seven points. Freshman Brooklyn Massingill scored five of her game-high 21 points in the first quarter as the Lady Bears jumped out to an 11-3 lead.
“Brooklyn has been consistent. She gets to the foul line, she gets perimeter shots and attacks the basket. She has become a complete player,” Nolan said.
Middlesboro chipped away to open the second quarter. A basket by seventh-grade forward Blair Green followed by a Bailey Hensley 3-pointer cut the deficit to three with 5:42 left in the period, forcing Nolan to call a time out.
Nolan’s discussion apparently worked, as Harlan County closed the period and the half on a 14-4 run to take a 13-point lead into the break. Seven Lady Bears scored in the second quarter.
A trey from Massingill capped an 11-3 Harlan County run to open the second half. The Lady Bears outscored Middlesboro 13-8 in the third quarter to push the lead to 40-22.
Harlan County outscored the Lady Jackets 11-10 in the fourth quarter, despite turning the ball over seven times. Middlesboro got as close as 14 in the final period, but Sarah Evans ended the threat with a basket underneath.
“If you win by 20 and you are still not satisfied that shows what your expectations are,” Nolan said. “We had trouble getting into a rhythm offensively tonight, but I expect that early.”
Middlesboro struggled to put the ball in the basket throughout the night. The Lady Jackets were just 8-for-28 from the field.
“Offensively, we have to score. That is where we are struggling. We have to be able to handle the basketball and take some people off the dribble. We have not been able to do that yet,” said Middlesboro coach Elgie Green.
Harlan County (6-0) returns to action Monday at home against Hazard. Middlesboro (0-7) will travel to Harlan on Tuesday.
Harlan County (51) – Kaitlyn Stittums 3, Brooklyn Massingill 21, Lauren Lee 6, Keisha Mimes 5, Sarah Evans 6, Bella Noe 3, Madison Cornett 5, Shannon Shackleford 2, Shauntae Lewis 0, Bridgette Bennett 0, Lauren Smith 0.
Middlesboro (32) – Bailey Hensley 3, Kelsie Hensley 4, Taylor Moyers 4, Carissa Padgett 4, Blair Green 14, Taylor Prater 1, Amanda Biscardi 2, Lauren Spurlock 0, Sophia Knuckles 0, Hannah Warren 0, Morgan Thompson 0, Baylie Brunsma 0.