WILLIAMSBURG — A strong finish helped the Harlan County Lady Bears avoid a potentially embarrassing loss to Williamsburg on Monday in the Southeastern Kentucky Conference Panorama.
Williamsburg, not ranked among the region’s top 10 teams, led several times in the first half and trailed by only six with less than six minutes to play before sophomore guard Rebecca Middleton led a late charge to help the Lady Bears pull away for a 45-31 win. Middleton scored eight of her team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Kaylea Gross and Blair Green added nine points each for the Lady Bears, who looked out of sync offensively much of the game, much like during last year’s late-season slump. HCHS often didn’t capitalize on opportunities to drive to the basket, working the ball around the perimeter extensively before turning it over.
Williamsburg played well in the first half and stayed close until the late HCHS run. Sophomore guard Kayla Gibson scored 14 points to lead the Lady Jackets, who finished 8-20 a year ago.
Harlan County was solid defensively and on the boards, limiting 6-foot-2 junior center Syndey Tye to only two points and 6-0 sophomore forward Kelsey Tye to five points.
Gibson had four points in the opening quarter as Williamsburg took a 9-8 lead.
Consecutive baskets by Gross and Green helped Harlan County go ahead in the second quarter, and the Lady Bears maintained a 20-16 advantage by the break.
Green, Gross and Middleton each had baskets in the third quarter as HCHS pulled out to a nine-point lead before a 3-pointer by Gibson cut the deficit to 30-24 going into the final period.
Two straight baskets by Noah Canady sparked Harlan County in the fourth quarter, then Middleton reeled off the Lady Bears’ final eight points to put the game away.
Harlan County opens its regular season schedule Monday at 6 p.m. at Clay County.
HARLAN COUNTY (45) — Rebecca Middleton 15, Kaylea Gross 9, Blair Green 9, Noah Canady 5, Kate Evans 2, Phebe McHargue 2, Reanna Middleton 3.
WILLIAMSBURG (31) — Sydney Tye 2, Kelsey Tye 5, Kayla Gibson 14, Lillie Abbott 5, Lillie Hall 3, Allyson Caddell 2.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134