Lady Bears’ comeback falls short in loss to John Hardin


John Henson

Harlan County guard Ella Karst worked against John Hardin’s Paris Parker in Friday’s game at the Chain Rock Classic at Pineville. Karst scored 22 points to lead the Lady Bears in a 49-46 loss.

By John Henson, Managing Editor


PINEVILLE — Harlan County found inspiration and intensity just in time on Thursday to rally from a six-point deficit going into the fourth quarter to rally for a win over Pineville in the second day of play at the Chain Rock Classic at Pineville High School.
They weren’t as fortunate Friday with a six-point deficit after three quarters against John Hardin on the final day of action in the tournament. The Lady Bears trailed by nine late in the fourth quarter before Ella Karst hit two 3-pointers to pull within three and drew contact on a 3 at the buzzer but didn’t get the call as John Hardin held on for a 49-46 victory.
Harlan County struggled offensively the entire game, shooting only 33 percent (18 of 54) against a long and athletic John Hardin squad led by 6-foot-3 senior center Xaviera Smalley, who had 13 points and eight rebounds in addition to blocking and altering numerous shots. Sharon Tidwell, a 5-9 junior forward, added 17 points and eight rebounds. Junior guard Destini McAlister, at 5-8, added 16 points and six rebounds for the 7-5 Lady Bulldogs.
“This is one we let get away from us,” Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan said. “Last night we pulled one out, then we let this one get away. We have to be more physical in games like this. We played tired some and didn’t get in transition and struggled to score. We needed more points off our defense.”
Karst scored 22 points and senior forward Jaylin Smith added 11 for the Lady Bears.
In addition to their shooting problems from the field, Harlan County also struggled at the line with a six-of-12 performance. The Lady Bears appeared tentative on offense the entire game after several early blocks, missing numerous easy shots and even passing the ball back outside instead of shooting under the basket.
“They are long, but there is no excuse for that. We have to grow up inside,” Nolan said. “Whether we get it or not, we have to keep their man from getting it. We have to have discipline to do that. We also had too many empty trips to the foul line. We have to fix that. We work hard to get a high-percentage shot or a putback then draw blanks at the line. We have to get better against physical teams.”
Harlan County (10-3) will return to action Tuesday at home against South Laurel.

Harlan County forward Jaylin Smith put up a shot over John Hardin center Xaviera Smalley in Friday’s game. (John Henson)
Harlan County center Taylor Lunsford went up for a shot in Friday’s game. (John Henson)
Harlan County’s Ella Karst put up a shot as time expired in a 49-46 loss to John Hardin at the Chain Rock Classic in Pineville. (John Henson)