Already one of the state’s most high-profile sophomores, it would be hard to imagine that Blair Green could still have a coming-out party. But that’s exactly what happened Friday at Harlan County High School.
The 6-foot-1 wing took control in the third quarter, pouring in 18 points in the period en route to a school-record 43, along with 10 rebounds, as the host Lady Bears defeated Knott County Central 73-66 to avenge last week’s loss in the WYMT Mountain Classic.
Perhaps most impressively, Green was a perfect 14-for-14 from the free-throw line in the game.
“Kaylea (Gross) went down with some fouls, and I was able to move Blair into the post a little bit, and she took over for us,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said. “We really needed her to do that. Sometimes you have to have players who can break people down and go to the hole and hit free throws, and she did that tonight.”
When sophomore center Kaylea Gross went to the bench with her fourth foul early in the third quarter, Green took over, accounting for all but four of the Lady Bears’ points in the period as Harlan County claimed the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter.
Green’s third basket of the quarter tied the game at 38-38 with 3:49 left in the period. Harlan County answered Lady Patriots buckets with free throws by Rebecca Middleton and Green, who converted a three-point play at the 1:46 mark to put the Lady Bears ahead for good. Harlan County led 52-47 going into the final quarter.
The Lady Bears used stellar free throw shooting to maintain control in the fourth quarter, attempting (and making) only three field goals but hitting 14 of 18 from the line.
Phebe McHargue’s 3-pointer early in the quarter put Harlan County ahead by seven, but the Lady Patriots used baskets by Hannah Hollifield and Kamryn Thornsberry and a free throw by Fallon Slone to pull within two with just under six minutes remaining. Green then scored eight points to fuel an 11-4 run that steadied the Lady Bears.
Knott County used a steady dose of Stacy Stamper to claim the momentum early, as the senior guard hit three 3-pointers. Sophomore Kamryn Thornsberry came off the bench to contribute five, including a buzzer-beating trey from 3 feet beyond the arc, as the Lady Pats grabbed a 19-18 lead.
“We wanted to limit (point guard Jada Higgins), so we used a triangle-and-two, and then (Stamper) hit some big 3s right off the bat,” Green said. “We didn’t do a good job on their post players; we weren’t very physical with them.”
The Lady Pats reeled off six straight points early in the second quarter to take a 25-20 lead. Harlan County battled back to tie the game twice in the period, but Stamper scored two more baskets as part of a 6-2 run to close the half and give Knott County a 34-30 edge.
Stamper scored 17 to lead the Lady Patriots’ balanced attack, and Hollifield added 16 along with a team-high seven rebounds. Higgins and Thornsberry contributed 14 and 10, respectively.
Breann Turner scored eight for the Lady Bears and also led the team with 11 rebounds and four assists. Rebecca Middleton and McHargue each added seven points.
The Lady Bears controlled the boards, outrebounding Knott County 37-21.
The Lady Bears return to action Monday at home against Lee, Va., while Knott County Central (12-6) will play host to Jenkins.
Steisha Smith and Kamryn Thornsberry scored 11 and 10, respectively, as Knott County held on for a 42-37 win in the junior varsity game.
Summer Anderson added nine for the Lady Patriots. Rounding out the scoring were Emily Mullins with six, Madison Ashley with four and Kearea Anderson with two.
Harlan County was led by Lainey Cox with 15 points. Morgan Blakley added eight, and Hannah Wood contributed six. Nikki Creech, Brooklyn Collins, Morgan Napier and Dixie Ewing each added two.