Pressure attack helps Lady Bears advance

Published 8:35 pm Monday, February 18, 2019

LOG MOUNTAIN — Constant pressure, both on the defensive end with their press and on the offensive side by pounding the ball in to senior center Breann Turner, helped send the Harlan County Lady Bears back to the 52nd District Tournament finals and the 13th Region Tournament.

The Lady Bears forced 23 turnovers and outrebounded Harlan 43-18. This led to a 67-28 advantage in shots taken for HCHS on the way to a 71-36 victory Monday in the opening game of the 52nd District Tournament at Bell County High School.

“We watched film and talked about what we did wrong last time (a 16-point win after a 42-point victory earlier in the year) and talked about playing for four quarters,” Harlan County coach Debbie Green said. “I thought we were a lot better on the offensive end the last time. We were looking to pound it in to Bree.”

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Turner responded with one of the best games of her career as she hit 10 of 15 shots in a 25-point effort.

“Bree played a good game,” said Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm. “She made the most of her opportunities.”

The Lady Dragons didn’t have very many scoring opportunities, hitting 12 of 28 shots for the game.

“It’s hard to win when you shoot only 28 times. We’ve been taking about 50 shots most of the year,” Hamm said.

Senior guards K.K. Johnson and Phebe McHargue led the HCHS press and added 17 and 11 points, respectively, to help the Lady Bears improve to 20-6 overall and earn a fourth straight trip to the 13th Region Tournament. The Lady Bears won last year’s regional and finished as runner-up to Harlan the previous two seasons.

“Everyone gave a good effort and we were really focused on getting that 20th win and getting back to the district finals and regional tournament,” Green said.

Junior forward Morgan Blakley helped the Lady Bears win the battle of the boards as she pulled down 17.

“Morgan plays so hard and gets a lot of loose balls. She had 10 offensive boards tonight,” Green said.

Turner had four baskets in the opening quarter as the Lady Bears raced to a 25-10 lead. The Lady Bears’ advantage grew to 44-20 by halftime as Turner had three more baskets while Johnson, McHargue and Jacey Lewis each hit 3-pointers.

Early foul trouble for junior forward Natalee King, who finished with 14 points, also hurt Harlan. King had all three of Harlan’s baskets in the third quarter as HCHS expanded its lead to 63-29 after three quarters and started a running clock on the opening possession of the fourth quarter when Turner found Blakley for a layup.

Senior guard Payeton Charles led the 8-22 Lady Dragons with 16 points. Charles was a key reserve on Harlan’s regional championship team in 2017.

“I think Payeton is a 12-year Dragon and was an important part of this program,” Hamm said. “She always gave great effort and set a good example for the younger girls.”

Harlan had advanced to the district finals each of the past five years, winning the district in 2016 while finishing second to Bell County in 2014 and 2015 and second to Harlan County in 2017 and 2018. The Lady Dragons made four straight trips to the regional finals from 2014 to 2017, winning in 2016 and 2017, but lost four starters coming into this season and most expected a rebuilding campaign.

“We knew it would be tough as far as wins and losses, but I was very proud of how hard the girls played all year,” Hamm said. “They stayed bought in to what we were doing. They were very resilient and their effort never wavered.”

Harlan County will play the Bell County-Middlesboro winner on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the 52nd District finals.


Harlan County 71, Harlan 36

HARLAN (8-22)

Payeton Charles 5-14 4-4 16, Ella Karst 0-2 0-0 0, Angel Wynn 0-0 2-2 2, Natalee King 5-9 4-7 14, Alli Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Savanna Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Peighton Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Raegan Jones 2-2 0-0 4, Makayla Sizemore 0-0 0-0 0, Emma Owens 0-0 0-0 0, Madison Cole 0-0 0-1 0. Totals: 12-28 10-14 36.


Phebe McHargue 4-10 1-4 11, K.K. Johnson 5-14 5-7 17, Reanna Middleton 1-5 0-0 2, Morgan Blakley 2-11 5-6 9, Breann Turner 10-15 5-7 25, Hannah Wood 0-5 0-0 0, Jacey Lewis 1-2 0-0 3, Kassy Owens 0-3 0-0 0, Kelly Beth Hoskins 0-0 0-0 0, Jaylin Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Jaylin Preston 0-1 0-0 0, Haley Middleton 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor Lunsford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-67 18-26 71.

Harlan 10 10 9 7 — 36

Harlan County 25 19 19 8 — 71

3-point goals: Harlan 2-4 (Charles 2-3, Smith 0-1), Harlan County 5-18 (Johnson 2-6, McHargue 2-7, Lewis 1-1, Middleton 0-2, Wood 0-2). Rebounds: Harlan 18 (Charles 4, King 4, Thompson 3, Smith 3, R Jones 2, P. Jones 1, Cole 1), Harlan County 43 (Blakley 17, Middleton 7, Turner 5, McHargue 3, Wood 3, Owens 3, Johnson 2, Lewis 2, Hoskins 1). Turnovers: Harlan 23, Harlan County 6. Fouled out: None.