Lady Jackets hold off late comeback bid by Harlan


Chris Jones

Keevi Betts, pictured in action last season, scored 16 points in Middlesboro’s win over Harlan.

MIDDLESBORO — Senior guard Kailey Owens scored 19 points and freshman guard Keevi Betts added 16 as Middlesboro edged Harlan 55-52 on Saturday.
Owens hit two free throws with 15.7 seconds remaining to give the Lady Jackets a two-point lead. Aymanni Wynn and Kylie Noe each missed 3-pointers for Harlan.
Middlesboro led most of the game and with 6:46 to play in the game led 42-29.
The Lady Dragons scored nine straight points to pull within 42-38 at the 3:46 mark. Wynn scored five points during the 9-0 run.
A three-point play by Owens and a 3-pointer by Gracie Gent gave Middlesboro a 10-point lead at 48-38 with 3:10 remaining.
A 10-2 spurt by the Lady Dragons, led by four points from Noe and a trey by Wynn, cut the deficit to 50-48 with 54 seconds to play.
Noe’s putback made it a two-point game. Mallory James hit two free throws for the Lady Jackets to make it 52-48 with 44 seconds left.
Two free throws by Noe with 33.6 seconds to play and a basket by Noe tied the game at 52 with 24 seconds left.
The Lady Jackets escaped with the win but committed 32 turnovers for the game.
“We played hard the last two minutes of the game,” said Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm-Rowe. “We did not play play Lady Dragon defense for three quarters. You don’t deserve to win games like that.”
James, a senior guard, finished with 13 points for the Lady Jackets.
Harlan was led in scoring by Noe with 20 points. The freshman forward grabbed seven rebounds. Wynn poured in 15 points and had six boards while Emma Owens scored seven.
Middlesboro got 3-pointers by Betts and Gent and a steal and layup by James to take a 15-11 advantage after eight minutes of play.
Noe scored seven in the opening period for Harlan.
Noe completed a pass to Addison Jackson, who completed a three-point play to tie the game at 15.
The Lady Jackets reeled off seven straight points, led by five points from Owens, who recently scored her 1,500th career point.
Harlan got as close as three points three different times in the final four minutes of the first half, but James had three baskets as Middlesboro took a 28-23 lead at halftime.
A steal and layup by James and a putback by Owens pushed the lead to 32-23 at the 6:14 mark of the third quarter.
Baskets by Wynn and Noe pulled Harlan within 34-29 with 2:58 to play in the period.
The Lady Dragons failed to score the rest of the quarter. Middlesboro had baskets by Owens and Anna Myers to take a 38-29 lead into the final period.
The Lady Jackets opened the fourth quarter as Betts nailed a 3-pointer and hit one of two free throws for a 13-point advantage.
Middlesboro outrebounded the Lady Dragons 40-25. Owens had a game-high 14 rebounds. James pulled down nine rebounds.
Harlan committed 17 turnovers and shot 33 percent from the field (18 of 54).
The win snapped a five-game losing streak by the Lady Jackets, who shot 48 percent from the field on 19 of 40.
The Lady Dragons are currently riding a four-game skid.
There was a question in the scoring late in the game and official Darrell Wilson came to the scorers table to get everyone in agreement.
Middlesboro (7-12) traveled to Pineville on Monday and Betsy Layne on Tuesday. The Lady Jackets will host Harlan County on Friday before traveling to Perry Central on Sunday.
Harlan (8-14) plays host to Harlan County on Tuesday. The Lady Dragons will host Corbin on Friday and visit Pineville on Saturday.