Lady Dragons capture district title


Harlan 75

Harlan County 56

HARLAN (24-4)

Jordan Brock 6-19 16-18 28, Brooklyn Massingill 4-9 0-0 10, Emma Bianchi 4-4 0-1 8, Mackenzie King 8-14 2-3 24, Katie King 1-1 0-0 2, Taylor SImpson 0-1 0-0 0, Brandi Haywood 0-0 0-0 0, Payeton Charles 0-0 0-0 0, Katelyn Burkhart 1-1 0-0 3, Katlyn Cornett 0-0 0-0 0, Amber King 0-1 0-0 0, Natalee King 0-0 0-0 0, Courtney Cozart 0-0 0-0 0, Noah Canady 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 24-56 18-22 75.

HARLAN COUNTY (21-8)

Phebe McHargue 1-4 0-2 3, Reanna Middleton 0-2 0-0 0, Breann Turner 0-3 0-0 0, Blair Green 8-21 8-8 24, Kaylea Gross 10-14 1-2 21, Leah Evans 2-4 1-1 5, Kate Evans 0-0 0-0 0, Lainey Cox 1-1 1-1 3, Morgan Napier 0-1 0-0 0, Nikki Creech 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Gaw 0-0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Collins 0-0 0-0 0, Macie Napier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-50 11-14 56.

Harlan 8 27 20 20 — 75

Harlan County 10 10 10 26 — 56

3-point goals: Harlan 9-20 (M. King 6-9, Massingill 2-5, Burkhart 1-1, Brock 0-5), Harlan County 1-4 (McHargue 1-2, Green 0-2). Rebounds: Harlan 19 (Brock 7, Massingill 3, M. King 3, K. King 3, Simpson 2, Bianchi 1), Harlan County 28 (Gross 13, Green 4, Cox 4, McHargue 1, Turner 1, L. Evans 1, Napier 1, Gaw 1, Collins 1). Turnovers: Harlan 17, Harlan County 25. Fouled out: Harlan (Bianchi), Harlan County (Middleton, Cox). Technical fouls: Harlan (bench).

Before she could catch a pass along the baseline in Thursday’s 52nd District Tournament championship game, Harlan’s Mackenzie King heard a simple directive from her coach.

“Hit it, Kenzie,” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal.

The Harlan sophomore forward was more than happy to comply by nailing the 3-pointer in the opening minute of the second quarter to give Lady Dragons a one-point lead over Harlan County. She liked it so much, she did it on the Lady Dragons’ next possession. She added another basket, then a three-point play in a personal 11-0 run that turned the momentum in Harlan’s direction on the way to a 75-56 win.

“Kenzie can shoot the basketball,” Akal said. “I think what happens is when you have players like Jordan Brock and Brooklyn Massingill, people assume they are the only ones who can shoot. In practice, Mackenzie is one of our best 3-point shooters. She had good looks tonight and had time to set up and follow through. I think that helped her a lot.”

King scored 16 of her 24 points in the second quarter, hitting five straight shots, as Harlan built a 35-20 lead by halftime.

“I’ve never been in a real rhythm with my 3,” King said. “After I hit the first 3, I got more confidence. It felt good to have the rhythm I did.”

Harlan County played the same triangle-and-two defense used to beat the Lady Dragons in the WYMT Mountain Classic, but King spoiled the strategy this time as Harlan won for the third time in four meetings against HCHS.

“It was a gamble, but we didn’t say we were going to leave her open,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said. “We just didn’t get there quick enough. Hats off to her. She played a great game.”

Brock, a junior guard ranked as the region’s top player, missed her first five shots, all 3-pointers, but took over the game once King put Harlan ahead and finished with a game-high 28 points, becoming only the third county girls player to top the 2,000-point mark. With 2,001 points, she is six behind Green, the HCHS coach who is a former Harlan all-stater, for the all-time Harlan High School scoring record.

Blair Green scored 24 points and Kaylea Gross added 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead the 21-8 Lady Bears. The rest of the HCHS roster accounted for only 11 points.

“We had other people score the other night (a win over Bell County). I don’t know if it was nerves or whatever, but we do have to have other people scoring. We know that,” Green said. “They are in the same situation, but they had someone step up and score tonight.”

“We had other people score the other night (a win over Bell County). I don’t know if it was nerves or whatever, but we do have to have other people scoring. We know that,” Green said. “They are in the same situation, but they had someone step up and score tonight.”

“Kaylea will do what Kaylea does and so will Blair. They are two of the better players in our region,” Akal said. “We tried to make sure we controlled the other girls. I was really impressed by (Phebe) McHargue and (Reanna) Middleton against Bell County. They stepped up and hit big shots, and we knew we had to get out there on them.”

Green scored eight points in the first quarter and Gross pulled down seven of her team’s nine rebounds as the Lady Bears built a 10-8 lead.

King began the destruction of Harlan County’s defense with a 3-pointer on the Lady Dragons’ first possession of the second quarter. She eventually turned a two-point deficit into a nine-point lead.

After her slow start, Brock took over midway through the second quarter and hit four of five shots as Harlan went up by 15 by halftime.

Brock and King stayed red hot in the third quarter. Each had three baskets as Harlan hit seven of nine to build a 55-30 lead going into the fourth period.

Harlan County continued to battle despite the big deficit. Gross had five baskets in the fourth quarter and Green added three as the Lady Bears got as close as 16. Harlan hit only three of eight shots in the period but stayed in control at the free throw line. Harlan hit 18 of 22 free throws, led by Brock with a 16-of-18 night.

Both teams advance to the 13th Region Tournament next week at the Corbin Arena.

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Harlan 75

Harlan County 56

HARLAN (24-4)

Jordan Brock 6-19 16-18 28, Brooklyn Massingill 4-9 0-0 10, Emma Bianchi 4-4 0-1 8, Mackenzie King 8-14 2-3 24, Katie King 1-1 0-0 2, Taylor SImpson 0-1 0-0 0, Brandi Haywood 0-0 0-0 0, Payeton Charles 0-0 0-0 0, Katelyn Burkhart 1-1 0-0 3, Katlyn Cornett 0-0 0-0 0, Amber King 0-1 0-0 0, Natalee King 0-0 0-0 0, Courtney Cozart 0-0 0-0 0, Noah Canady 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 24-56 18-22 75.

HARLAN COUNTY (21-8)

Phebe McHargue 1-4 0-2 3, Reanna Middleton 0-2 0-0 0, Breann Turner 0-3 0-0 0, Blair Green 8-21 8-8 24, Kaylea Gross 10-14 1-2 21, Leah Evans 2-4 1-1 5, Kate Evans 0-0 0-0 0, Lainey Cox 1-1 1-1 3, Morgan Napier 0-1 0-0 0, Nikki Creech 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Gaw 0-0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Collins 0-0 0-0 0, Macie Napier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-50 11-14 56.

Harlan 8 27 20 20 — 75

Harlan County 10 10 10 26 — 56

3-point goals: Harlan 9-20 (M. King 6-9, Massingill 2-5, Burkhart 1-1, Brock 0-5), Harlan County 1-4 (McHargue 1-2, Green 0-2). Rebounds: Harlan 19 (Brock 7, Massingill 3, M. King 3, K. King 3, Simpson 2, Bianchi 1), Harlan County 28 (Gross 13, Green 4, Cox 4, McHargue 1, Turner 1, L. Evans 1, Napier 1, Gaw 1, Collins 1). Turnovers: Harlan 17, Harlan County 25. Fouled out: Harlan (Bianchi), Harlan County (Middleton, Cox). Technical fouls: Harlan (bench).

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