Lady Generals hold off Harlan comeback to repeat as All ‘A’ champs


Jon Dickenson

The Jackson County Lady Generals edged Harlan 69-63 on Friday to win their second straight 13th Region All “A” Classic title.

By John Henson, Managing Editor



While it was a repeat for Jackson County in winning its second straight 13th Region All “A” Classic title against the same team from last year’s finals, the Lady Generals weren’t about to coast in earning a second straight ticket to Richmond for state competition.
Playing at home in front of an intense crowd, the Harlan Lady Dragons were within one point with just over a minute left and on the verge of an upset. Jackson County closed with a 5-0 run after a couple of Harlan misses and turnovers to hang on for a 69-63 victory.
“This was a tough environment to play in — a small gym with a lot of people,” Jackson County coach Kourtney Tyra said. “We’re just blessed to come out of here with a win.”
With the Harlan defense focused on stopping Jackson County star Abby Gilbert, and succeeding in limiting the sophomore forward to 10 points, 6-4 senior center Kenady Ward filled the void with a 27-point, 10-rebound performance for the 13-2 Lady Generals.
“We know everybody’s plan is to to shut her and our inside game down,” Tyra said. “Usually when one of them gets shut down the other one steps up and (Ward) did a great job tonight. That was our plan the whole time, but they made it hard for us to do that. We finally made some plays at the end, and she put it in and it turned out in our favor.”
“She’s 6-4 and she used every bit of it tonight,” Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm Rowe said. “I thought she played well and a had a big game on a big night. That’s not something you can simulate in practice. I thought my kids fought as hard as they could. A couple of plays here and a couple of calls there and it could have been a different game. It was a one-point game with 30 seconds to go. As a coach, you can’t ask to be a in a better spot.
“That’s why it hurts so much because championships are hard and it takes so much. When you win them, you are exuberant. When you lose, you are devastated because you put so much into it. I think this is a testament to our kids. We’ve had a lot of adversity with so many injuries and just got everyone back. We’re excited about the second half of the season, and I hope we can make a push.”
Harlan sophomore forward Aymanni Wynn held Gilbert in check much of the night, limiting her to three shots over the final three quarters.
“She’s led them offensively all year,” Rowe said of Gilbert. “Ward had a huge game, but the other girl has done more damage through the first 14 games. We did as well as we could on her. Good teams will have other people step up.”
Junior forward Jenna Creech also played a big role in the win with 17 points on six-of-eight shooting, including the run-out basket with 30 seconds left that pushed the lead from one to three and two free throws with 8.1 seconds to play to put the game away.
“She shot it well the entire tournament,” Tyra said. “She made some big shots in the first half to get us the lead. She played tough the entire game.”
“Ward stepped up and (Creech) had back to back huge nights with 17 points each game. You have to give credit to them. Their guards hit some big shots,” Rowe said.
Sophomore guard Kylie Noe scored 30 points to lead the 6-8 Lady Dragons, including four straight baskets in the fourth quarter as she attacked the region’s tallest frontline and succeeded. Wynn also had a big fourth quarter with three baskets, finishing with 18 points.
The 6-8 Lady Dragons return to action Tuesday at Pineville. Jackson County plays host to South Laurel on Thursday.

The Harlan Lady Dragons placed second in the 13th Region All “A” Classic (Jon Dickenson)
Harlan’s Aymanni Wynn scored 18 points on Friday in the 13th Region All “A” Classic championship game. (Jon Dickenson)