An Enterprise Staff Report
With a pair of key contributors making their first appearance of the season, a deeper Harlan Lady Dragons squad knocked off Upperman (Tenn.) 53-44 in the Candy Cane Classic opener on Thursday.
Senior Kelly Cox made her season debut in the second quarter. Cox’s basketball career was though to be over after heart surgery just weeks ago. The Lady Dragons also benefited from the return of freshman center Kaitlyn Jenkins, who was out with an injury.
“Kelly came in and made some big free throws and Jenkins made a bucket down stretch,” Akal said. “They make us deeper. I was pleased with the team before got back — now that they are back, it makes us better defensively, because they are both really good defensive players.”
Harlan took a two-point lead after the first quarter before pulling away in the second. Shanae Thomas drained a pair of treys in the second as the Lady Dragons built a 28-18 advantage at the half.
Torri Mitchell had five points in the third quarter as the Lady Dragons maintained the lead. Mitchell finished with eight points, while eighth-grade guard Jordan Brock led Harlan with 12 in the win.
“Jordan is getting comfortable with the speed of the game,” Akal said. “The transition is tough early on, especially at her position, but she is a talented player and is starting to let some of that talent show.”
Harlan held Upperman without a basket from the field in the fourth quarter to hold on for the win. The Lady Dragons limited the Tennessee squad to just 10 made shots in the contest. Upperman did have success in getting to the free throw line, but was only 19-for-36 from the charity stripe.
“They had some good looks but missed some shots. They took a lot of 3-pointers and got to the free-throw line,” Akal said. “They attacked the bucket really strong and we fouled them on a couple of 3-point shots, but we had spurts where we played pretty good defense.”
Harlan (6-4) will face host South Laurel today, while Upperman will meet Barbourville.
Harlan (53) — Jordan Brock 12, Jourdan Ledford 5, Torri Mitchell 8, Masie Charles 6, Emma Bianchi 7, Katie King 0, Shanae Thomas 6, Kelly Cox 6, Kaitlin Jenkins 3, McKenzie King 0.
Upperman (44) — Klaudia Hull 29, Kenzie Martin 9, Kristen Hull 5, Sarah Eldridge 1, Brooke Farris 0, Lindsey Hull 0, Ashley Medley 0.