Lady Bears celebrate Senior Night by extending win streak against Middlesboro to 30


John Henson

Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan talked to the Lady Bears during a timeout Friday. The Lady Bears improved to 19-6 with 67-29 win over visiting Middlesboro.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

It was an evening of celebrations Friday for the Harlan County Lady Bears, beginning with Senior Night ceremonies for Jaylin Smith, Hailey Austin, Taytum Griffin and Taylor Lunsford, Smith and Lunsford received commemorative basketballs at halftime for reaching the 500-rebound mark, then the Lady Bears finished off a 67-29 win over visiting Middlesboro.
It was the 30th straight victory for HCHS over Middlesboro since their last loss in the 2011 52nd District Tournament. It was also the 19th win of the season as Harlan County moved one victory away from their second straight 20-win season and the 11th in the 15-year history of the program.
“Considering where they came from as JV players to where they are now, I’m as proud this group as any I’ve had in 20 years,” Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan said. “They are good kids in the classroom, in the community and good role models for young players. They have worked hard and improved. I’m proud of them and glad to see them all contribute tonight.”
The Lady Bears placed four in double figures while improving to 19-6 on the season, led by Griffin with 15 points. Smith and Ella Karst added 13 each. Lunsford had 12 points.
Sophomore guard Keevi Betts scored 19 points to lead the 4-21 Lady Jackets.
Harlan County reeled off 14 unanswered points after a 2-2 tie in the opening minute, capitalizing on 10 turnovers. Lunsford, Karst and Griffin each had two baskets as the Lady Bears built a 22-6 lead.
“The kids got out and executed. We passed the ball well and got some momentum going,” Nolan said. “Senior Night is always emotional. It’s a dreaded game for me with the emotions, but I thought our kids played well. We had a lot of girls who contributed.”
Smith hit three of three shots in the second quarter as the lead grew to 38-19 by halftime. Betts hit all three of her shots in the period to lead the Lady Jackets.
HCHS outscored Middlesboro 12-10 in the third quarter rand led 50-29 going into the final period.
The Lady Bears held Middlesboro scoreless in the final period, outscoring the Lady Jackets 17-0. Harlan County hit its first five shots in the period before Nolan went to his reserves again after allowing his senior to take a final bow on their home court.
Harlan County plays a doubleheader on Saturday at Barbourviile, taking on Jackson County at 1 and Barbourville at 4:30. Middlesboro plays Wellspring Guardians on Feb. 13 at home.