After being forced to deal with Ashley Mullins, Madison Ball and Gabrielle Rehnborg for the past three seasons, Middlesboro was likely looking to this season as an opportunity to work out some frustration against Harlan. Instead, it was more of the same for the visiting Lady Jackets.
The latest group of Lady Dragons pushed their win streak against Middlesboro to seven games with a 39-32 win over the visiting Lady Jackets on Tuesday.
“Any win right now is good for us. This is a district win and our All ‘A’ opponent, so that makes it important,” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal.
Jourdan Ledford opened the scoring with a basket on Harlan’s first possession. Torri Mitchell banked a 3-pointer in from the left corner on the next to give the Lady Dragons the lead and some confidence early.
“When you have inexperienced players, it is important to make a couple shots and do some things well early in the game,” Akal said.
Harlan led by just two after a basket from Middlesboro’s Carissa Padgett made it 8-6. However, the Lady Dragons closed the period with six straight points to take a 14-6 lead.
After a trey from Jordan Brock, Jourdan Ledford hit a layup off of a turnover to push the lead to 13 to open the second quarter, but the Lady Jackets began to chip away at the deficit from that point. Padgett had six of her 11 points in the period as Middlesboro closed the half on an 11-3 run to make it 22-17 at the break.
The Lady Jackets got as close as three on two occasions in the third quarter, but Harlan responded each time. Taylor Moyers opened the second half with a basket underneath to make it 22-19, but Brock answered with a bucket on the opposite end to push Harlan’s lead back to five. A pull-up jumper from Brock gave the Lady Dragons a seven-point lead on the next possession. Brock finished with 13 points to lead all scorers.
A basket from Taylor Prater brought Middlesboro back to within three with 3:13 left in the third, but that was as close as the Lady Jackets got the rest of the way. Emma Bianchi pushed the lead back to five after driving the length of the floor for a layup. Shanae Thomas followed with a trey to make it 34-26. After a Middlesboro basket, Masie Charles and Brock combined for the final four points of the period as the Lady Dragons took a 38-29 advantage into the final period.
“It seemed like every time we got close there, we turned the ball over or they would hit a shot,” said Middlesboro coach Elgie Green. “That was a tough stretch for us.”
Despite scoring just one point, Harlan maintained the lead in the fourth quarter. The Lady Dragons forced Middlesboro into nine turnovers and grabbed five offensive rebounds in the final period to hold off the Lady Jackets.
“Rebounding was a point of emphasis for us down the stretch. I felt like we gave up too many offensive rebounds in the first half,” Akal said. “I thought we did a better job of limiting them to one shot and turning them over in the fourth quarter.”
Middlesboro (0-8 overall, 0-2 district) will host Corbin on Tuesday, while Harlan (3-3 overall, 1-1 district) returns to action Dec. 21 in the Muhlenberg County Christmas Tournament.
Harlan (39) – Jordan Brock 13, Jourdan Ledford 9, Masie Charles 7, Torri Mitchell 5, Emma Bianchi 2, Shanae Thomas 3, Katie King 0, Callie Wilson 0.
Middlesboro (32) – Bailey Hensley 0, Kelsie Hensley 0, Taylor Moyers 2, Carissa Padgett 11, Blair Green 11, Taylor Prater 2, Lauren Spurlock 0, Amanda Biscardi 6.