Bell County wins fourth straight girls district hoops championship

Published 1:30 pm Monday, February 27, 2023


Contributing writer

The Lady Bobcats of Bell County trailed by eight heading into the fourth quarter in the Thursday’s 52nd District Tournament finals at Middlesboro.

Email newsletter signup

Bell County used an 11-0 scoring outburst and outscored Harlan County 18-6 in the final period to claim it’s fourth straight championship with a 48-44 victory.

‘The game was a battle,” said Bell County coach David Teague. “I thought both teams played very hard. I was proud of the effort our kids gave and proud of kids for stepping up and making plays when we needed it.”

It was the seventh district championship for Bell County under Teague.

The game opened up like it was going to be a high-scoring contest.

The two teams battled to a 17-17 tie after eight minutes of play.

Wilder scored seven and Ausmus nailed two 3-pointers in the opening quarter for Bell County.

Karst tossed in seven points and Smith added four in the period.

Harlan County outscored the Lady Cats 10-7 in the second quarter. Karst had seven in the period. HC led 27-24 at halftime.

Jones nailed a pair of 3-pointers for the Lady Bears in the third quarter as HC used an 11-6 spurt.

At the end of the third period, Harlan County held a 38-30 advantage.

The final quarter featured McGeorge hitting two treys and scoring eight points while Wilder scored six points and Ausmus nailed a 3-pointer to seal the win.

“Harlan County did a good job throughout the game defensively with taking away our shooters,” said Teague. “I was proud of the way our players stayed the course and just stayed with the game plan.”

Junior forward Gracie Joe Wilder powered Bell County with 18 points. Mataya Ausmus followed with 14 points while Lauren McGeorge scored 10. Mikayla Gambrel, Kaylee Greer-Gann and Kairi Lamb each added two.

Junior point-guard Ella Karst led the Lady Bears with 18 points. Senior guard Jaylin Smith tossed in 10 points and six rebounds. Kylie Jones finished with six points. Taytum Griffin tallied four. Paige Phillips contributed three. Hailey Austin had two points and Taylor Lunsford chipped in one points and 10 rebounds.

“The game plan was effective and we held a high-scoring team under 50,” said Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan. “We just simply passed up shots and missed some free throws to close the game. “Incredible effort all night and very proud of the execution,” he added.

Both teams shot 40 percent from the floor on the night. HCHS hit 18 of 45 while Bell was 17 of 43.

The Lady Bears outrebounded Bell High 32-25. Lamb led the Lady Cats with nine boards. Greer-Gann pulled down five.

The team’s combined for 39 turnovers. The Lady Cats committed 21. HC had 18.

Bell County and Harlan County will advance to the 13th Region Tournament to be held at the Arena in Corbin.