CORBIN — A Miranda Wilson putback lifted Corbin to a 40-39 victory over visiting Harlan County in Friday’s regional showdown. The Lady Hounds used an eight-point outburst in the final 36 seconds to rally past Harlan County in a matchup of two of the 13 Region’s top teams.
Harlan County struggled in the opening minutes. Corbin’s Sarah Ashley opened the game with four straight points and Brooklyn Ashurst followed with a 3-pointer, as the Lady Hounds took a 7-0 lead. Madison Cornett stopped the slide with a free throw for the Lady Bears. To layups from Kaitlyn Stittums sandwiched a Cornett basket to tie the game at 7. Freshman Brooklyn Massingill gave the Lady Bears their first lead with a pair of free throws on the next possession. Layups from Bella Noe and Cornett extended the lead to six points, but Corbin’s Miranda Wilson closed the period with a trey to make it 13-10.
“They hit their first few shots and we missed our first few. But, after that, I thought we settled down. I thought we got into a rhythm. We trusted each other and were working hard defensively,” said Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan.
With senior Sarah Evans out of the lineup due to a leg injury, Cornett stepped up in the paint in the first quarter. Cornett had five points and a pair of rebounds in the opening period.
The Lady Bears took over on the defensive end in the second quarter, holding Corbin without a point for over four minutes. After a pair of free throws from Cornett, Noe and Massingill each added four points in the quarter to push the lead to 11 points. Ashley closed the half with a 3-pointer to make it 23-15.
The Lady Bears attacked the basket throughout the first half, with eight of their nine made baskets coming in the lane.
“We have been talking about spacing a lot on offense and giving ourselves a chance to attack the basket and kick out for the shot. We did a good job of creating some high-percentage shots in the first half,” said Nolan.
Harlan County turned the ball over four times in their first five possessions to open the third quarter, as Corbin chipped away early. A trey from Miranda Wilson pulled the Lady Hounds to within three, but the Lady Bears responded from that point. Keisha Mimes had four points to power an 8-3 run that pushed the lead back to eight. Ashley closed the third quarter scoring with a pair of free throws to make it 31-25.
The Lady Bears continued to turn the ball over in the fourth quarter, while Corbin closed the gap at the free throw line. The Lady Hounds combined to hit five of seven attempts to reduce the deficit to just one with 3:42 remaining in the contest. However, Stittums and Mimes answered with four straight from the line to make it 37-32. After a trey from Miranda Wilson, Stittums hit two more free throws to put Harlan County up by four with 28 seconds remaining. Ashurst kept the Lady Hounds in it with another trey with 18 seconds left. Stittums had a chance to add to the lead, but missed the front end of a bonus situation with 12 seconds remaining. After a Corbin timeout, Miranda Wilson rebounded a missed 3-pointer from Ashurst and scored on the putback as time expired to lift the Lady Hounds to the win.
“We forced them into the shot that we wanted to make them take, but instead of closing out and finishing the play we watched the ball. It was an extremely long six seconds, but we should have got that rebound,” said Nolan.
After turning the ball over just once in the first half, the Lady Bears gave it away 11 times in the final two quarters.
“We had very few turnovers in the first half. We had too many in the second half, and I think that was because we started turning our back instead of attacking the basket,” Nolan said. “But a lot of that has to do with our inability to get to the foul line. It makes the kids timid and gets in their head. So, they quit attacking the basket on me in the second half.”
Harlan County (22-4) returns to action today against Somerset at Pulaski County. Corbin (20-7) will face Rockcastle County at Pulaski County.
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Corbin (40) — Miranda Wilson 17, Kayla Wilson 2, Brooklyn Ashurst 6, Sarah Ashley 11, Holli Disney 0, Melanie Wilson 0, Kristen Fothergill 0, Jaclyn Jewell 0, Natalye Gallagher 4.
Harlan County (39) — Kaitlyn Stittums 12, Brooklyn Massingill 6, Lauren Lee 0, Madison Cornett 7, Keisha Mimes 6, Bella Noe 8, Kaitlin Evans 0.