Lady Bears roll past Pineville with strong defensive effort

By John Henson, Managing Editor

PINEVILLE — Until his Harlan County Lady Bears can become more consistent on the offensive end, coach Anthony Nolan knows a strong defense is crucial to success.
The Lady Bears followed that formula to perfection on Thursday at Pineville, limiting the youthful Pineville Lady Lions to only eight shots from the field and seven points in building a 22-point halftime lead on the way to a 52-26 victory.
“I think our defense had them rattled a little bit and we got some confidence with that,” Nolan said. “We have to be able to create some offense from our defense, and I think we did that tonight. We were active on the defensive end and also did a good job on the boards.”
Pineville shot only 30 percent (eight of 27) for the game and turned the ball over 32 times, a sharp departure from earlier in the week when the young Lady Lions upset Clay County.
“Harlan County really got after us. We weren’t ready for that kind of aggressiveness,” Pineville coach Elgie Green said. “
Green and his wife, Debbie, are in their first season with the Lady Lions after leading the girls program at Harlan County for six years, through 2020. The Greens inherited a rebuilding squad that lost four starters from a 15-5 team that won the regional All “A” Classic. This year’s starting lineup includes a junior, two freshmen and two eighth-graders.
“I thought we were shell-shocked and didn’t take care of the basketball,” Green said. “We had trouble getting a shot off, and we weren’t really looking to shoot.”
Junior forward Jaylin Smith hit eight of nine shots from the field and finished with 16 points. Sophomore guard Ella Karst added 15 points for the 4-3 Lady Bears.
“Ella loves to play and we can count on her every night,” Nolan said. “Jaylin had an off night Tuesday against Leslie County but she gave us a big lift in this one. We need that from her every night.”
Ava Arnett, a freshman, and Rachel Howard, an eighth-grader, each scored 11 points for the 2-5 Lady Lions.
“I thought Howard played real well for us, especially in the second half,” Green said.
HCHS scored the game’s first six points and hit eight of 13 shots in the period to build a 17-4 lead. Pineville had 13 turnovers, leading to numerous points in transition, and hit only one of five shots. Smith had three baskets in the quarter.
The Lady Lions were limited to only three shots and three points in the second quarter as the Harlan County lead grew to 27-7 by halftime. Karst carried the Harlan County offense with seven of the Lady Bears’ 10 points.
Smith hit five of five shots in the third quarter as the Lady Bears extended their advantage to 44-15. The HCHS lead grew to as many as 30 points in the final period, at 49-19, on a free throw by Paige Phillips. Arnett had three baskets in the quarter to lead Pineville.
Harlan County returns to action Friday at Bell County in the first half of a girls/boys doubleheader. Pineville plays host to Red Bird on Friday.