Lady Bears unable to overcome shooting woes in loss to Bell


Kim Henson

Harlan County’s Paige Phillips worked against Bell County center Kairi Lamb in Tuesday’s district clash. Bell County claimed a 64-54 win.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

With 6-3 center Kairi Lamb and 6-1 forward Gracie Wilder in their lineup, the Bell County Lady Cats feature perhaps the most imposing frontline in the 13th Region. Harlan County was unable to adjust to that length Tuesday in a 64-54 loss at HCHS.
The Lady Bears shot an ice cold 29 percent (22 of 76) as Wilder and Lamb blocked or changed shots much of the night. Even when they weren’t there to make a play, it appeared they, Wilder especially, stayed in the Lady Bears’ heads through what HCHS coach Anthony Nolan described as “short arming” shots.
“We got the shots we wanted tonight, but they didn’t fall like they have been,” Nolan said of the Lady Bears’ 5-1 start this season. “I think they were tentative. Sometimes it’s a mental thing. We gave up too many easy baskets and missed too many layups. Wilder adjusted our shot a little bit. We were short-arming them or adjusting to avoid being blocked. It’s a mental thing we have to get through. This is only the first game against them. We have to learn from it and go forward, but it’s frustrating because if they hit some shots early it might have been a different story. We could never get in a rhythm offensively.”
Wilder scored 24 points to lead the 4-1 Lady Cats. Guards Lauren McGeorge and Mataya Ausmus added 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Junior guard Ella Karst scored 19 to lead the 5-2 Lady Bears. Jaylin Smith added 13 points.
Neither team led by more than two points in a first quarter that included three lead changes. Karst had two of the Lady Bears’ four baskets in the quarter, including a floater in the lane that gave HCHS an 11-10 lead after one period.
Bell came out hot in the second quarter while the Lady Bears were missing 11 of 13 shots from the field. Bell’s lead grew to nine before a late run cut the deficit to 27-24 at halftime.
Wilder hit five of six shots in the third quarter and McGeorge added three baskets as Bell hit 10 of 17 shots in the period to extend its lead to 50-34 by the end of the quarter. Harlan County hit only four of 17 shoots in the period.
The Lady Bears got up 23 shots in the fourth quarter but connected on only eight as Bell led by as many as 17 before Karst led a late run with eight straight points.
Harlan County will return to action Friday at home against Pineville. Bell County will play host to Claiborne, Tenn., on Saturday at 2:30 as part of the Pride of the Mountains Showcase.


Harlan County guard Kylie Jones worked down the court in Tuesday’s game against visiting Bell County. (Kim Henson)


Harlan County guard Taytum Griffin put up a shot Tuesday against Bell County. The visiting Lady Cats won 64-54. (Kim Henson)