CORBIN — Jim Croce warned in the 1970s about the dangers of pulling on Superman’s cape and spitting into the wind.
In 21st Century 13th Region girls basketball, you don’t fall behind the Harlan Lady Dragons if you expect to win.
With the dynamic guard combination of Jordan Brock and Brooklyn Massingill handling the ball, it’s but impossible to make up ground on the Lady Dragons, who solidified their position as the region’s top team with a 54-34 rout of North Laurel on Friday in the semifinals of the 13th Region Tournament at the Corbin Arena.
Massingill scored 19 points and Brock added 18 as Harlan rolled into the finals for the third straight year.
“We got some good looks late because they were doubling and tripling Jordan and Brooklyn at times,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said. “It helps when you have ball handlers. I trust our guards to handle it when we have a lead.”
What had been billed as a showdown between the region’s top two teams soon turned into a rout as the Lady Dragons limited North Laurel to 20 percent (10 of 49) shooting and star senior guard Kayla Bruner to only nine points.
“One of our statements is that defense wins championships and offense is by how many,” Akal said. “We believe that if we play really good defense, the offense will take care of itself. I though we were very good there. All our girls played well defensively.”
Junior forward Emma Bianchi did most of the defensive work on Bruner, blocking four shots while holding her to three-of-18 shooting.
“I challenged Emma again yesterday,” Akal said. “She is athletic and can run. She has long arms, and I think that bothered Bruner a little. I think a couple of early blocks caused Bruner to change her shot.”
“We got decent shots, just not the same results as Monday (a win over Corbin),” said North Laurel coach Eddie Mahan. “Actually, we had the same shots, if not better shots, tonight.”
Both teams struggled early on offense, going almost three minutes without scoring with the score tied at 4-4. Mackenzie King broke the drought with a putback, then Massingill followed with a 3-pointer. Another trey, this one by Brock in the closing seconds of the period, gave Harlan a 12-5 lead.
Harlan’s lead grew to nine, at 19-10, as Brock and Taylor Simpson each hit 3-pointers in the opening three minutes.
North Laurel fought back into the game after going to a halfcourt trap, leading to several Harlan turnovers and three straight baskets by the Lady Jaguars to cut the deficit to three. King hit three of four at the line to push the lead back to six. Bruner and Taylor Combs each hit one of two at the line to help North pull within four, at 22-18, by halftime.
The Lady Dragons will play Harlan County in the championship game Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134