Slow start vs. Bears stalls Middlesboro

Published 12:42 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2024

By John Henson

Contributing Writer

MIDDLESBORO — With three district victories in a five-day stretch, the Harlan County Lady Bears haven’t had many weeks of late as good as the one that just concluded.

Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan worked to keep that truth in mind as he analyzed a sluggish 48-39 victory at Middlesboro on Friday. The Lady Bears shot only 32 percent (18 of 56) from the field as their offensive woes seemed to grow as the game progressed. HCHS scored the game’s first seven points and led 18-10 after one quarter and by as many as 18 late in the third quarter before being held to six points over the final 10 minutes.

“Girls play on emotions and sometimes you just have to survive to put one in the win column,” Nolan said. “This was the backside of three district games this week. Middlesboro played inspired and had nothing to lose. We had plenty of shots but nothing went in tonight. Everything is simpler when the ball goes through the hoop. We had a lot of standing around tonight. Our kids have to understand the effort has to be there regardless. Then the shots usually go in easier. We missed layups, free throws and open 3s we usually make. There are nights when the ball doesn’t go, but you still have to stay the course. I’m still happy to get a road victory, but we have to go back to work.”

Ella Karst scored 29 points to lead the Lady Bears, but even their star senior guard had an off night shooting. Cheyenne Rhymer added 10 points, all in the second quarter, as she helped the Lady Bears take control of the game before the half.

The 4-12 Lady Jackets were led by 19 points from junior guard Keevi Betts.

Karst had three baskets in the opening quarter while Faith Hoskins and Paige Phillips added two each as Harlan County built an eight-point lead. Rhymer dominated the second quarter as the Lady Bears built a 14-point lead before Morgan Martin closed the half with a basket to cut the deficit to 30-18 at the break.

Middlesboro played almost five minutes without a basket in the third quarter as Harlan County’s lead grew to 40-22 on Karst’s 3 with 3:17 left. Jenna Baker and Betts hit 3s to close the quarter to cut the deficit to 42-31.

The Lady Bears led by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter before shut out over the final 3:17. Middlesboro senior center Halaya Brown had the final two baskets of the game to cut the final deficit to nine points.

Middlesboro returns to action on Saturday afternoon against visiting Burgin. Harlan County will play at Knott Central on Tuesday.

Scoring summary

Harlan County 48, Middlesboro 39

HARLAN COUNTY (12-9)

Ella Karst 11-29 5-5 29, Reagan Clem 0-2 0-0 0, Cheyenne Rhymer 3-10 2-2 10, Faith Hoskins 2-6 0-0 4, Paige Phillips 2-7 1-5 5, Jaylee Cochran 0-0 0-0 0, Whitley Teague 0-2 0-2 0. Totals: 18-56 8-10 48.

MIDDLESBORO (4-12)

Keevi Betts 6-13 5-7 19, Morgan Martin 2-6 1-4 5, Millie Roberts 0-0 0-0 0. Trinity Partin 0-8 0-0 0, Halaya Brown 2-5 2-2 6, Trinity Derossett 1-4 0-2 2, Jenna Baker 2-3 0-0 5, Emily Lambert 1-6 0-0 3. Totals: 14-45 8-15 39.

Harlan County 18-12-12-6 — 48

Middlesboro 10-8-13-8 — 39

3-point goals: Harlan County 4-20 (Rhymer 2-7, Karst 2-9, Clem 0-1, Hoskins 0-3), Middlesboro 3-18 (Baker 1-1, Lambert 1-3, Betts 1-6, Martin 0-2, Partin 0-6). Rebounds: Harlan County 29 (Philips 8, Rhymer 7, Hoskins 5, Karst 4, Teague 3, Clem 1, Cochran 1), Middlesboro 32 (Partin 9, Betts 7, Martin 5, Brown 5, Baker 3, Derosset 2, Lambert 1). Turnovers; Harlan County 4, Middlesboro 12. Fouled out: None.

Betts leads Lady Jackets

Middlesboro overcome a slow start and finish to edge visiting Burgin 44-41 on Saturday.

Junior guard Keevi Betts led the 5-12 Lady Jackets with 17 points, including eight in the third quarter as Middlesboro built a 39-33 lead going into the final period.

The Lady Jackets return to action Tuesday at Barbourville.

Scoring summary

Middlesboro (44) — Keevi Betts 17, Trinity Partin 8, Halaya Brown 9, Jenna Baker 5, Emily Lambert 5.

Burgin (41) — Gabby Thompson 13, Kelsey Stone 13, Isabella Mayes 6, Avery Gray 6, Hannah Simpson 3.

Burgin 16-4-13-8 — 41

Middlesboro 10-14-15-5 — 44