Presley powers improved Lady Panthers to one-point win at HCHS

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John Henson

Knox Central senior guard Presley Partin drove against Harlan County’s Kylie Jones in Saturday’s game. Partin scored 24 points in the Lady Panthers’ 56-55 win.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

A Knox Central team that attempted 467 3-pointers a season ago were somewhat of.a disappointment by finishing 11-17.
This year’s Lady Panthers have attempted less than 200 3-pointers and are on the cusp of being a top five team in the 13th Region with an 11-5 record going into the final week of the regular season.
The difference was on display Saturday as the Lady Panthers grabbed a 14-0 lead before holding off a late Harlan County rally to win 56-55.
Senior guard Presley Partin has led the change and hit eight of 11 shots in a 24-point performance against HCHS as she continually beat the Lady Bears off the dribble.
“She was very physical with the ball and it changed our scheme of things when we got behind. She was so quick off the dribble that she was beating us to the basket,” Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan said. “Our guards have to get stronger against that straight-line drive. She was very creative at the mid-post range and made it tough for us.”
“We tried to go into attack mode against their man and get to the basket, get to the line or hit a layup,” Knox Central coach Jamie Sowders said. “(Partin) can do that every night. Caylan Mills is also hard to guard off the dribble.”
Partin and Zoey Liford each had three baskets in the opening quarter as Knox raced to a 14-0 lead while Harlan County was missing its first 11 shots from the field. Kylie Jones finally broke the drought with two free throws with 1:25 left in the period. A putback by Taytum Griffin was the only basket of the quarter for the Lady Bears and cut the deficit to 14-4.
“We were flat coming out, for whatever reason, and you can’t do that. You have to be engaged and you have to be the aggressor,” Nolan said. “I went to that rotation and we got a spark there. I think when they saw life was going to go on, they decided to go in there and play. I thought we played much better after the first quarter. I think not having (Jaylin) Smith the last couple of games has hurt because she can hit that mid-range shot and is pretty good defensively.”
Ella Karst led the HCHS comeback in the second period as she hit five of seven shots, including three 3-pointers. Jones and Jacey Lewis also hit 3s as the Lady Bears took a 23-22 lead on Jones’ 3 with 1:52 left in the half. The lead changed hands five more times with Partin’s three-point play giving Knox a 30-28 advantage at the break.
Harlan County went cold again in the third quarter while Knox hit six of nine shots to build a 46-37 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Karst led another comeback in the fourth period as she hit six of nine shots, tying the game at 49 with a 3-pointer and at 51 with a steal and layup.
“They hit a lot of big shots,” Sowders said. “We’d get out to an eight- or nine-point lead and then relax. (Karst) shot the ball well and got to the basket.”
Timberly Frederick put Knox ahead to stay when she hit a 3 with 1:52 left. Karst cut the deficit to one, then Partin made it a three-point game with 8.3 seconds left when she hit two free throws. Karst cut the final deficit to one with a basket just before time expired, a mental mistake because the Lady Bears needed a 3 to tie. Despite that error, Karst may have had her best game with the Lady Bears as she finished with 31 points on 12-of-21 shooting, including six 3-pointers. Jones added 10 points as she played a big role off the bench.
“Ella asserted herself tonight, and I thought Kylie bounced back and gave us a lift,” Nolan said. “I think we can be as dangerous as anybody, but we have to decide we want to play and be assertive. We shouldn’t have to get down 14-0 before we decide to play.”
Harlan County (8-11) will play host to Pineville on Monday in a 6 p.m game. Knox Central (11-5) travels to North Laurel on Thursday.
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Knox Central rallied for a 33-30 win in junior varsity action as Timberly Frederick hit a couple of clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter on the way to a nine-point effort. Natalie Fisher led Knox Central with 10 points. Isabella Frost added four. Hannah Melton and Sydnee Hurst added three each. Cheyenne Sizemore and Zoey Hamilton scored two each.
Taytum Griffin led the 6-6 Lady Bears with eight points. Hailey Austin and Kylie Jones scored five each. Paige Phillips and Haley Middleton added four each. Jenna Wilson and Leah Davis scored two each.
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A defensive struggle Thursday at Pineville went to the host Lady Lions, who held Harlan County to single digits in all four quarters on the way to a 41-28 victory.
Senior center Raigan King scored 14 points to lead the 13-4 Lady Lions. Senior guards Whitney Caldwell and Summer Partin added 10 points each.
Jacey Lewis, a senior guard, led the 8-10 Lady Bears with 15 points. HCHS played without junior forward Jaylin Smith due to an injury.
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Pineville (41) — Whtiney Caldwell 10, Summer Partin 10, Raigan King 14, Virginia Hall 1, Abby Jackson 2, Ava Arnett 4.
Harlan County (28) — Ella Karst 6, Jacey Lewis 15, Kelly Beth Hoskins 3, Kassy Owens 3, Taylor Lunsford 1.

Harlan County 5 5 9 9 — 28
Pineville 11 6 11 13 — 41