Lady Cats overcome slow start to earn a spot in district finals

Published 4:20 pm Thursday, February 29, 2024

By John Henson

Contributing Sports Writer

Until they found a rhythm offensively, the Bell County Lady Cats had to hold on with defense in the first half of Monday’s 52nd District Tournament opener against Middlesboro at Harlan County High School.

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The Lady Cats trailed 10-8 after one quarter and struggled to a 21-15 halftime lead before taking control in the second half on the way to a 55-38 win, advancing to the district finals for the sixth straight year.

“Sometimes the shots just don’t go, and Middlesboro did a nice job trying to rush us up, plus face guarding us and things like that,” Bell County coach David Teague said. “I thought our kids continued to battle and did a good job ourselves guarding, I told them to keep working and good things will happen.”

Senior forward Gracie Jo Wilder scored 20 points to lead the 17-13 Lady Cats. Kairi Lamb and Lauren McGeorge added 15 and 13 points, respectively.

The Lady Cats blew the game open by outscoring Middlesboro 21-6 in the third quarter.

“We talked at halftime that sometimes offense is hard to find and you have to let your defense create some things for you,” Teague said. “I thought we did a good job of getting out in transition and getting some easy buckets. We were able to relax a little and do some things.”

Keevi Betts scored 12 points and Millie Roberts added 10 for the Lady Jackets, who fell to 9-19 while suffering its 13th straight first-round exit.

Bell County will play Harlan at 7 on Thursday in the district finals and will seek its fifth straight district championship.