Lady Bears extend win streak to seven with victory over Barbourville


Chris Jones

Harlan County’s Kylie Jones battled for a loose ball in Saturday’s game against visiting Barbourville. The Lady Bears extended their win streak to seven with a 62-45 victory.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Harlan County center Taylor Lunsford passed the ball down court after one of her 10 rebounds during the Lady Bears’ win over Barbourville. (Chris Jones)


Riding a seven-game winning streak into the final week of the regular season, the Harlan County Lady Bears are making a case as the 13th Region’s most surprising team following a 62-45 win Saturday afternoon over visiting Barbourville that pushed their record to 17-10.
The Lady Bears were ranked 10th in the region in preseason polls but have defeated three teams ranked ahead of them and lost to no one ranked below them.
“I’m as proud of this team as any I’ve ever coached,” said Anthony Nolan, who is in his eighth season overall as coach of the Lady Bears after 12 seasons of coaching the Cawood boys. “I know how far this team has come throughout the course of the season. They are so hard on themselves, so you have to cautious about how you express yourselves to them. I’m very pleased with their effort, and their growth from November to February has been fun to watch. The most important part of the season is ahead of us, so we hope we’ve narrowed the gap to where we can compete.”
Harlan County struggled to pull away from the Lady Tigers through the first half, taking a 24-20 lead into the break, but they blew the game open with an 11-0 run to open the second half. Taytum Griffin started the surge with a 3-pointer, then Ella Karst scored four straight baskets, including three off Barbourville turnovers.
“We were a little flat the first half with a quick turnaround from last night,” Nolan said. “We saw some things we could take advantage of and the kids did a great job of executing it to near perfection. We were able to be pretty comfortable the rest of the game after that.”
Karst hit six of seven shots in the decisive third quarter and finished with a game-high 29 points.
“Teams have to respect our other players now, so it gives her a chance to take advantage of her strengths,” Nolan said. “Our passes were a little soft the first half, and a lot of that was playing an afternoon game after a district game the previous night. We also struggled at the free-throw line, and that is something we have to correct before the district tournament.”
Jaylin Smith added nine points for the Lady Bears, while Taylor Lunsford added eight points and 11 rebounds.
Barbourville was again led by senior center Brianna Gallagher with 23 points. Sophomore guard Sarah Smith added 10 points.
Smith hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter to keep Barbourville close as Karst had three baskets to lead HCHS to an 11-8 lead.
The game was tied at 17 and 19 before baskets by Smith and Karst helped the Lady Bears take a four-point halftime lead.
Karst and the HCHS defense, which forced six turnovers, turned the momentum in the third quarter. The Lady Bears hit their first five shots, most layups off turnovers, in building a 48-32 lead by the end of the period.
Harlan County closes its regular season schedule next week by traveling to Jenkins for a 6 p.m. game on Tuesday and taking on Red Bird at home Thursday in a girls/boys doubleheader.