Jordan Brock tried the kinder, gentler style of playing point guard, a pass first approach that seemed to take some of the fire out of the Harlan junior during two straight losses last week in the WYMT Mountain Classic.
The old Brock returned with a vengeance Thursday — the stone cold killer who shoots first and asks questions later.
Brock hit seven of her first 11 shots, including six of eight 3-pointers, as Harlan raced to a 31-8 lead on the way to a 68-35 win over Middlesboro in the All “A” Classic semifinals.
“When she walked past me at halftime I said ‘Welcome back, Jordan’” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal. “She was more aggressive, and we’re better when she’s aggressive offensively. When she’s looking to score and looking to attack the defense she opens up so much for everyone else.”
Brock scored 20 of her 22 points in the first half as Harlan grabbed control of the game quickly. Senior guard Brooklyn Massingill took over in the second half, finishing with 27 points.
“Brooklyn did what Brooklyn does,” Akal said. “Jordan found her a few times and she hit open shots and played great defense. I thought our posts did a good job. Our interior passing was good, and we rebounded the ball. It was a total team effort.”
For Middlesboro (10-7), it was a disappointing conclusion to the All “A” after blowing past Oneida Baptist in the first round. The Lady Jackets have more than doubled their win total from a year ago, but they were no match for Harlan on this night.
“It’s the same old bugaboo. We play good one night, then not so good the next,” Middlesboro coach Ron Edwards said. “Let’s give them credit, because they are probably the best team in the region. But I thought we came out starry eyed and shell shocked. We settled down the second half and played a lot better. They got on such a roll with Brock and Massingill hitting 3s, and it had a snowball effect.”
Brock hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter as Harlan was able to build a 16-6 advantage by the end of the period.
She went from hot to blazing to start the second quarter, hitting four straight shots as the Lady Dragons found themselves with a 23-point lead midway through the period.
Massingill closed the half by hitting three straight shots. Emma Bianchi and Mackenzie King added one basket each as Harlan hit nine of 12 shots in the quarter to go up 39-12 at halftime.
Middlesboro guard Erica Gambrel hit all three of her shots in the third quarter as the Lady Jackets lost the period by only one point, 17-16. Massingill carried the Harlan offense with three 3-pointers as the lead grew to 56-28 by the end of the period.
“We’re not on the level of Harlan yet, but we’re not bad. We played better after we settled down,” Edwards said.
Five straight points by Bianchi, who finished with nine points and 15 rebounds, pushed Harlan’s lead to 33 points. A trey by Massingill followed by a basket from Brock started a running clock and marked the end of the evening for the Harlan starters.
Harlan will play Lynn Camp on Friday at 7 p.m. in the regional finals as the Lady Dragons will seek to win their third straight title and advance to state competition in two weeks in Frankfort.
Lynn Camp 40, Pineville 36
By holding Pineville to only nine points in the second half, Lynn Camp rallied from an eight-point deficit to earn a berth in the finals.
Brooklyn Bryant scored 11 points and Breanna White added 10 for the Lady Cats.
Jill Enix and Autumn Short paced the Lady Lions with nine points each.
Lynn Camp (40) — Keisha Brock 8, Brooklyn Bryant 11, Bradie Coe 6, Mackenzie Grant 5, Breanna White 10, Jasmine Miracle 0.
Pineville (36) — Jill Enix 9, Autumn Short 9, Sarah Combs 5, Sophia Knuckles 5, Shayne Rafferty 8, Morgan Thompson 0, Mackenzie Fuson 0, Anna Howard 0.
Lynn Camp 11 8 12 9 — 40
Pineville 12 15 4 5 — 36
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134