After slow starts led to fast exits during the Harlan Lady Dragons’ last two trips to the All “A” Classic state tournament, Harlan made certain it was Bracken County that struggled early on Wednesday.
Harlan (18-3) put together one of its best defensive efforts of the season, limiting Bracken to 29 percent (12 of 41) shooting from the field, compared to 51 percent (20 of 39) for the Lady Dragons, on the way to a 55-30 victory at the Frankfort Convention Center.
“They didn’t shoot the ball well against our zone,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said.
The win broke a three-game losing streak in state All “A” competition, but Akal didn’t make ending that skid a focus going into the tournament.
“It’s one game at a time,” Akal said. “We don’t concern ourselves with the past couple of years as we don’t with the past couple of games.”
Junior guard Jordan Brock and senior guard Brooklyn Massingill outscored the entire Bracken roster, teaming for 32 points, with Brock scoring 18 and Massingill adding 14.
Bracken standout Bailey Cummins, who has scored over 2,000 points in her career and averages over 22 points per game this year, was held to seven points by the Lady Dragons.
“We tried to keep Cummins out of the lane and did a good job at that,” Akal said.
Brock was on fire early, hitting two 3-pointers in an 11-2 run to start the game that also featured a trey and two free throws from junior forward Emma Bianchi. Brock stayed hot, hitting all six of her shots from the field as Harlan built a 25-11 lead by the end of the period.
“We played real well the first quarter. We had some good looks,” Akal said.
The Harlan offense cooled in the second quarter but the defense stayed strong as the Lady Dragons maintained a 32-16 lead going into the break. Mackenzie King and Brock closed the period with baskets after Bracken had cut the deficit to 11 on a field goal by Madison Kalb.
Bracken’s switch to a man-to-man defense slowed Harlan in the second half as Bracken pulled back within 11 when Korbin Florer hit two straight shots. Massingill carried the Harlan offense in the third quarter, hitting three 3-pointers, including two to close the period as the Lady Dragons took a 45-26 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Bracken didn’t have a basket in the opening six minutes of the fourth period as Harlan outscored the Lady Bears 10-6 with reserves finishing the game for both squads.
Harlan will advance to the quarterfinals to play 11th Region champ Frankfort on Friday. Frankfort moved on with a 72-50 win over Menifee County.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134