Lady Bears are clutch at the line late to edge Harlan


Chris Jones

Harlan County’s Ella Karst chased Harlan guard Emma Owens in Friday’s district clash at HCHS.

Harlan County connected on 15 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter on Friday to hold off a comeback attempt by Harlan in a 60-55 victory.

The Lady Bears held a 37-33 advantage heading into the final quarter. With 7:11 remaining, Angel Wynn nailed a 3-pointer to give the Lady Dragons a 38-37 edge. Harlan County fought back with baskets by Kassy Owens and Ella Karst to give HC a 41-38 lead.

Another trey by Wynn and a basket from Kylie Noe pulled the Lady Dragons within one, at 47-46, with 3:21 to play.

Harlan got as close as one point two more times, but Karst, Jacey Lewis and Kylie Jones each hit free throws in the final 77 seconds to give the Lady Bears their third straight victory.

“We knew they’d make a run,” said Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan. “We did some goofy things that limited our shot attempts and possession and things we can work on. We’re getting better in so many other areas. I’m glad it was a good, tough win. We needed that type of game to show the confidence and to step to the free throw line in the fourth quarter.”

Lewis powered Harlan County with 24 points. The senior guard connected on seven of 10 from the field, including four 3-pointers. She was six of nine from the free throw line. Karst finished with 16 points.

“These are good kids. They’re coachable. Our leadership is better and we’re getting contributions in different areas,” said Nolan. “Under the circumstances with the season we have, I honestly think they’re giving me all they’ve got. That’s all I can ask.”

Harlan was led in scoring by Noe, an eighth-grade forward, with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Aymanni Wynn scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Angel Wynn nailed four treys to finish with 12 points.

The Lady Dragons outrebounded HC 40-29.

Karst scored six points and Lewis hit a 3-pointer as HC took an 11-6 lead after one quarter. Noe had two baskets for the Lady Dragons in the opening period.

Both teams struggled from the field in the second quarter. Harlan County missed 10 of 13 shots while the Lady Dragons were just one of 12.

Harlan’s Alli Thompson and Faith Hoskins each picked up their third fouls in the period. The Lady Bears led 24-13 at halftime. Lewis scored eight points for Harlan County in the quarter.

Lewis scored five points during a 5-2 spurt to opened the second half. Aymanni Wynn scored eight points and Emma Owens completed a three-point play as Harlan used a 13-2 run to cut the deficit to 31-28 with 2:08 left in the third period.

A three-point play by Aymanni Wynn at the 1:26 mark tied the game at 33-33. Karst scored three of four points as HC closed the quarter leading by four.

“I was super pleased in the second held. We played how we can play, but we needed that for four quarters,” said Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm. “In the second half everybody saw Green Dragon basketball.”

Harlan County (6-6) returns to action Tuesday in the first game of a girls-boys doubleheader at Bell County. The Lady Bears’ game that was postponed on Thursday at home against Middlesboro has been rescheduled for Feb. 27.

Harlan (3-9) travels to Lynn Camp on Saturday at 5 p.m. and plays host to Middlesboro on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

The pairings are set for the 52nd District Tournament to be played at Harlan High School next month. Top-seed Bell County will play the Lady Dragons and the second-seeded Lady Bears will face Middlesboro.