Karst, defense carry Lady Bears to Chain Rock Classic win over Middlesboro


John Henson

Harlan County guard Ella Karst worked inside to draw a foul in action against Middlesboro on Wednesday in the Chain Rock Classic at Pineville. Karst scored 26 points in the Lady Bears’ 59-26 win.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

PINEVILLE — With the Harlan County defense forcing 14 turnovers and junior guard Ella Karst scoring 15 points, the Lady Bears quickly took all the mystery out of their opening game against Middlesboro on Wednesday afternoon in the Chain Rock Classic at Pineville High School.
Harlan County raced to a 25-4 lead after one quarter and coasted to a 59-26 win over the rebuilding Lady Jackets to improve to 9-2 on the season. Even though they won easily and had a running clock in the opening seconds of the second half, the Lady Bears were not especially sharp.
“We showed some rust. With the holidays and the weather, we weren’t able to practice for five days,” Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan said. “It was good for us to be able to play today, but we still haven’t had our full lineup together in quite a while with Taylor (Lunsford) out last week and Hailey (Austin) out this week (due to having wisdom teeth removed).”
Karst, who joined the school’s 1,000-point club in a win over Lee, Va., last week, finished with 26 points to carry the HCHS offense. Karst has over 1,500 points in her high school career, including two years at Harlan.
With Karst hitting five straight shots to open the game, took control after a basket by Morgan Martin gave Middlesboro a brief 3-2 lead. Faith Hoskins came off the bench to provide a spark late in the quarter with two baskets that pushed the Lady Bears’ lead to 21 points after one period.
Jaylin Smith had two of her three baskets in the second quarter to start a 10-0 run that pushed the lead to 35-4 with 2:48 left in the first half. Nolan went to his reserves early and the lead grew to 42-8 by halftime.
Karst hit two 3-pointers to start the third quarter as the lead grew to 48-8. Maddi Middleton also hit a 3 and Paige Phillips added a basket as the Lady Bears led 53-15 going into the final period.
Cheyenne Rhymer had two baskets and Lacey Robinson added one to account for all of the HC points in the fourth quarter. Keevi Betts, who tied with Addison Larew for the team lead with eight points, had two baskets in the fourth quarter for the 1-7 Lady Jackets.
Harlan County will return to action Thursday, taking on Pineville at 4:15.