Lady Bears rally past Clay after struggling in first half


Chris Jones

Harlan County guards Taytum Griffin and Ella Karst trapped a Clay County player during Thursday’s game. The Lady Bears picked up their intensity on defense in the second half to rally for a 55-50 win.

By John Henson, Managing Editor


Unable to stop a Clay County offense that hit seven of nine shots in the second quarter on Thursday to build a seven-point halftime lead, the Harlan County Lady Bears were able to regroup at the break and pick up the intensity on both sides of the floor.
The Lady Bears held Clay to only two-of-10 shooting in the third quarter and did a better job of getting to the basket on the offensive end to rally for a 55-50 victory.
“They shot it well and I feel we came out flat after playing on the road last night,” Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan said. “We were gambling too much in the first half. We were way more disciplined the second half. (Clay) shot it better than I’ve seen them all year in the first half.”
Harlan County (11-10) had several stars on offense, led by Ella Karst and Jaylin Smith with 15 points each and Hailey Austin with 14.
“I hate to see us drifting on shots. We did a better job the second half of driving, especially Ella and Jaylin,” Nolan said.
Austin provided a perimeter threat, hitting three of four 3-point attempts in the second half to cap the Lady Bears’ comeback.
Karst had three baskets in the third quarter as she worked her way to the basket to spark 13-3 run to close the period as HCHS turned a six-point deficit into a 42-38 lead. Smith added two baskets and three rebounds.
With the Lady Bears up 45-41 with five minutes left, Austin hit back-to-back 3-pointers that pushed the lead to double digits.
“Those were rhythm shots,” Nolan said. “We did a good job of passing the ball and Hailey knocked down some big shots.”
Senior forward Courtney Jones led the 6-10 Lady Tigers with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Jaylen Combs added 11 points, including two 3-pointers in the second quarter as the Lady Tigers hit five treys and led by as many as 10 points before Paige Phillips and Smith scored in the final 70 seconds to cut the deficit to seven.
Harlan County travels to Red Bird on Tuesday. Clay County plays at Breathitt County on Saturday.
Clay County claimed a 38-24 win in junior varsity action as Rachel Davidson scored 11 and Julia Collins and Lauryn Sizemore each added 10 for the Lady Tigers.
Cheyenne Rhymer paced the Lady Bears with 12 points. Whitley Teague scored six. Peyton Lunsford, Maddi Middleton and Whitney Noe each scored two.