Lady Bears take control early in rout of Hazard

By John Henson, Managing Editor


Losers of four of their last five, the Harlan County Lady Bears didn’t let an opportunity slip away from them Wednesday against a young and struggling Hazard squad. After giving up the game’s first point, the Lady Bears scored the next 29 to take control on the way to a 60-15 victory.
Harlan County overcame a slow start on offense with a strong game defensively, forcing 11 turnovers in each of the first two quarters.
“The kids were in the passing lane and looked for each other,” Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan said. “We also tried to stay humble in the process. We pulled back early, but we wanted to be the aggressor to start. Our kids played through a slow start because we knew it would eventually break. Once the shots started going in you can build some momentum. We stayed the course and pushed through it. We didn’t do that last night (a loss at South Laurel) and it really hurt us. We played well defensively last night, but we hadn’t played since Dec. 22. We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole. Our timing was off. I think we got into a better rhythm tonight. We hope the weather isn’t too bad where it causes us to have another layoff.”
Nolan went to his reserves early and several had big nights, led by junior guard Hailey Austin with 11 points. Senior guard Jaylin Preston added nine points and Paige Phillips had a team-high seven rebounds off the bench.
“Our depth will be crucial for us. We need to take advantage of our versatility, especially against some of the better teams we play,” Nolan said. “We have to bring that same mentality against some of the teams we’re not favored to beat. We’re struggling with that right now. We have to get to that mentality.”
HCHS was limited to only two baskets in the opening four minutes before catching fire with the help of Hazard turnovers. Austin and Ella Karst, who finished with 10 points, each had two baskets, including one 3-pointer each, as the Lady Bears built an 18-1 lead.
Smith took over in the second quarter, hitting three of four shots as the HCHS advantage grew to 29-1 before Taylor Couch recorded Hazard’s first basket with 5:32 left in the first half. Austin added two more baskets and Preston reeled off three in the final 95 seconds as Harlan County’s advantage reached 46-5 by halftime.
Harlan County outscored Hazard 8-2 in the third quarter with a running clock, led by baskets from Austin, Phillips and Preston. Hazard outscored HCHS.8-6 in the fourth period as Couch, who led the 0-13 Lady Dogs with eight points, had two baskets, including a 3-pointer.
Harlan County returns to action Saturday at home at 4:30 against Perry Central.

Led by 13 points from eighth-grade guard Cheyenne Rhymer, Harlan County won 30-17 in junior varsity action to improve to 2-4 on the season.
Maddi Middleton and Savannah Hill scored five points each. Peyton Lunsford, Whitley Teague and Whitney Noe added two each. Addison Gray chipped in with one.
Ryleigh Griffin led Hazard with seven points. McKenzie Roberts scored four. Carlee Davidson and Braylynn Eddington added two each.


LONDON — South Laurel started the new year off on the right foot by securing a 56-35 win over Harlan County on Tuesday.
The Lady Cardinals (7-4) were without starters Rachel Presley and Skeeter Mabe due to illness but received a total team effort to remain as one of only two regional teams unbeaten (3-0) against 13th Region opponents.
“We really struggled in the first half trying to adjust to missing Rachel and Skeeter due to illness,” South Laurel coach Chris Souder said. “We did much better in the second half defensively and that got us going. It wasn’t a pretty win but we will take it.

“We only had eight players dressed tonight,” he added. “We just told the kids it is a great opportunity for some younger kids to get some great experience.”
All eight players that dressed scored in the win for South Laurel with Emily Cox’s 12-point scoring effort leading the way. Gracie Turner added 10 points while Clara Collins added nine points and Gracie Hoskins finished with eight points.
The Lady Cardinals struggled to get much going in the first quarter, struggling to a 12-all tie before Corbin Miller and Hoskins each scored three points apiece to give South Laurel a 26-21 cushion at halftime.
South Laurel turned up the heat on defense in the third quarter, limiting Harlan County to only two points while the Lady Cardinals scored 12 to take a commanding 38-23 advantage into the fourth quarter. Collins scored five points during the period while Cox added four points.

South Laurel put the finishing touches on the win in the final eight minutes, outscoring the Lady Bears 18-12 as Hoskins added four points and Jaylen Smith finished with three points during the quarter.
The Lady Cardinals coasted to a 68-28 win in junior varsity action, led by 19 points from Hoskins and 11 each from Messer and Smith.
Cheyenne Rhymer scored nine to lead the 1-4 Lady Bears. Whitney Noe tossed in five. Brianna Howard and Whitley Teague added four each. Peyton Lunsford and Hailee Hensley scored three each.
South Laurel 56, Harlan County 35
Harlan County (35) — Griffin 5, Smith 3, Karst 8, Austin 6, Jones 5, Lunsford 6, Phillips 2.
South Laurel (56) — Collins 9, Miller 6, Turner 10, Bundy 4, Hoskins 8, Cox 12, Murray 2, Smith 5.
Harlan County  12   9    2  12  — 35
South Laurel     12  14  12  18  — 56

(HCHS-South Laurel story by Les Dixon)