Balanced offense, strong defense help Lady Bears roll past Barbourville


Jon Dickenson

Harlan County forward Jaylin Smith sliced between Barbourville’s Layla Brock and Emilee Sizemore for two of her 13 points in the Lady Bears’ 66-29 win Monday over visiting Barbourville.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Even though they didn’t shoot nearly as well as they did in victories last week over Knott Central and Clay County, the Harlan County Lady Bears found a different path to success Monday in a 66-29 victory over visiting Barbourville..
The Lady Bears shot 37 percent (24 of 65) from the field but turned the ball over only three times all night long and forced 24 turnovers in improving to 3-1 on the season.
“They weren’t bad shots, but we were missing some we have been making during the first quarter. We started hitting them the second quarter and created some separation,” Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan said. “Our defense was pretty solid overall. Hailey (Austin) made some good defensive plays and Ella (Karst) creates matchup problems on offense. I thought Paige (Phillips) and Kylie (Jones) gave us some energy, along with Faith (Hoskins).”
The Lady Bears followed a recent pattern of a balanced offense as Ella Karst scored 16 followed by Taytum Griffin with 14 and Jaylin Smith with 13.
Junior guard Sarah Smith carried the Barbourville offense with 20 points on eight-of-11 shooting.
Smith had two baskets in the opening two minutes as Barbourville took an early lead before HCHS reeled off nine straight points behind two baskets and two free throws from Karst. Smith had two baskets late in the period to give the Lady Bears a 21-10 lead.
A four-point trip by Karst and two baskets from Hoskins pushed the lead to 20. Jones and Griffin followed with 3s as the Lady Bears built a 47-18 advantage by halftime.
Smith broke out of her early-season shooting slump by hitting six of 11 shots on Monday, including all three attempts in the third quarter. Harlan County started a running clock after five straight points by Smith and a basket from Jones as part of a 13-0 run, capped by Phillips’ three-point play, as the lead grew to 62-24.
“Jaylin finally asserted herself and hit those shots. She got more finesse tonight and didn’t try to overpower everything,” Nolan said.
Two Phillips free throws gave HCHS a 40-point lead early in the fourth quarter before reserves for both teams finished the game.
The Lady Bears will play on consecutive nights with a trip to Whitley County on Tuesday.
“We have a tough road trip ahead of us tomorrow and back-to-back nights, so I was glad we were able to get everyone in there and give some of our girls a little break tonight,” Nolan said.
Barbourville (1-1) will play host to Bluegrass United (Lexington) on Thursday.
Harlan County scored the first 20 points in junior varsity action and coasted to a 41-12 win to improve to 2-2 on the season.
Cheyenne Rhymer and Lacey Robinson each scored seven points to lead the Lady Bears. Maddi Middleton added six, followed by Whitley Teague and Peyton Lunsford with four each, Whitney Noe with three and Addi Gray, Preslee Hensley, Alley Stewart, Jaylee Cochran and Kylee Runions with two each.
Marleigh Martin led Barbourville with six points. Leah Bruce scored three and was followed by Allison Love with two and Bailee Branstutter with one.

Barbourville guard Sarah Smith shot as Harlan County’s Taytum Griffin and Ella Karst defended in Monday’s game at the HCHS gym. (Jon Dickenson)