CORBIN — On the way to winning their third straight 13th Region Freshman Tournament title, the Harlan County Lady Bears showed they probably should be favored for a fourth.
Eighth-graders scored all but 12 of the Lady Bears’ points in a 41-20 win over Corbin in the championship game Saturday as several top freshmen made only a token appearance due to their roles on the varsity squad.
“It never gets old, but I was a little nervous because it was almost entirely a new group,” Harlan County coach Jill Harris said. “I was real proud of how the younger kids played. I told coach E (Elgie Green) late in the game that these kids are going to be hard to handle when they get to be juniors and seniors. I was real pleased with how they all played and that we were able to play everybody. I give God all the glory.”
Down by two points early in the second quarter, Harlan County soon turned the game into a rout by reeling off 23 unanswered points in a run that extended into the third quarter.
Eighth-grade forwards Morgan Blakley and Emily Long, eighth-grade guard Hannah Wood and freshman guard Savanna Smith teamed for the last 15 points of the second quarter as the Lady Bears built a 23-10 lead by halftime.
Blakley started the third quarter with two free throws then found Breann Turner for a pair of baskets sandwiched around a basket of her own as the lead grew to 31-10. Ewing closed the period with a basket as Harlan County led 34-14.
Brooklyn Collins, Abby Stevens, Hannah Johnson and Lucy Howard had points for HCHS in the final quarter as the Lady Bears outscored Corbin 7-6.
Ewing scored seven points to lead Harlan County. Wood and Long added six each, and Blakley contributed five.
Harleigh Grubb paced Corbin with eight points.
Breann Turner and Phebe McHargue, both starters on the HCHS varsity, played only two minutes in the game to start the third quarter. Turner played in all three HCHS championship victories.
“I’m happy for them to have three,” Harris said. “It’s great.”
Corbin advanced to the finals with a 39-38 win over Bell County. Bell defeated Jackson County 36-26 in an opening-round game.
Harlan County (5-1) defeated Williamsburg 46-37 in the other semifinal, breaking open a close game by outscoring the Lady Jackets 16-8 in the fourth quarter.
Reanna Middleton scored 16 to lead the Lady Bears. Wood added nine.
Lillie Abbott and Lillie Hall led Williamsburg with 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Harlan County (41) — Reanna Middleton 2, Brooklyn Collins 4, Hannah Wood 6, Savanna Smith 2, Morgan Blakley 5, Abby Stevens 2, Emily Long 6, Dixie Ewing 7, Breann Turner 4, Hannah Johnson 2, Lucy Howard 1.
Corbin (20) — Harleigh Grubb 8, Marisa Scott 4, Hannah Medlin 2, Shelby Stewart 2, Kami Garland 2, Samantha Yaninda 2.
Harlan County (46) — Phebe McHargue 4, Breann Turner 6, Reanna Middleton 16, Nikki Creech 2, Hannah Wood 9, T.C. Somersall 4, Emily Long 3, Morgan Blakley 2.
Williamsburg (37) — Lillie Hall 12, Rachel Gibson 3, Lillie Abbott 14, Madison Chapman 5, Allison Caddell 1, Morgan Prewitt 2.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134