Lady Jackets advance to semis
Middlesboro showed resilience on Monday when they squared off against Barbourville in the opening round of the 13th Region All A Classic. The Lady Jackets held a 17-point lead at halftime, but Barbourville surged in the second half and cut the lead to as little as three points in the fourth quarter.
Middlesboro made the plays they needed to down the stretch to hold on for a 69-61 victory over the Lady Tigers. With the win, the Lady Jackets advance to the semifinals against Harlan on Thursday.
“We’ve been working on (staying composed). The first part of the season they liked to take the first half off. We played a good first half, and they would take the second half off,” said Middlesboro coach Bethany Evans. “One of our focus points has been trying to put a whole game together, and they did well tonight. They played well from start to finish.”
Junior guard Baylee Woody played a big part in securing the victory late in the fourth quarter for Middlesboro. She scored six of her team-high 15 points during Barbourville’s second half surge to help shift the momentum in Middlesboro’s favor.
“I got on to her a little bit (after the Bell game). I told her she didn’t make a shot until the last three seconds of the game,” said Evans about Woody. “I told her she has to be one of our consistent scorers. I’ve got to have (her) driving, and she did tonight. She stepped up. She did really well.”
Jamayha Poe tied for a game-high 15 points while going a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. For the senior guard, it was her fourth consecutive game shooting at least 80 percent from the charity stripe.
Hannah Warren added 13 points to the scoreboard, while Lakin Burke chipped in 12 points off the bench.
Anna Daniels was a force for the Lady Tigers on Monday. She finished with a game-high 27 points while scoring nine baskets from the field and going 9-for-13 from the free-throw line.
Abba Smith tallied 15 points for Barbourville. Shelbie Jones rounded out the double-digit scoring for the Lady Tigers finishing with 10 points.
Down by 17, Barbourville began making their move in the third quarter. After swapping baskets early, Jones scored on an old-fashion three-point play to narrow the deficit to 40-25. Daniels then scored on a layup to cut the lead to 13.
After falling behind 45-29, the Lady Tigers went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 45-36 midway through the third. Grace Moles ended the run with a jumper that increased the Middlesboro lead back to double digits, 47-36.
Poe followed the jumper with a pair of free throws to give the Lady Jackets a 49-36 lead with 1:40 remaining in the quarter.
Daniels converted the and-1 with 58.7 seconds left to narrow the deficit to 10 before Burke nailed a 3-pointer to give Middlesboro a 52-39 lead. Smith responded with a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter to cut the lead to 10 heading into the final stanza.
Barbourville opened the fourth with a 5-0 run with all points coming from the charity stripe to narrow the margin to 52-47. A 3-pointer by Warren increased the lead to eight before a pair of free throws from Jones and a pull-up jumper by Caylan Mills cut the deficit to 55-51 with a little over five minutes to play.
Within reaching distance, the Lady Tigers had multiple chances to cut the lead even further. After gaining possession on a rebound, Barbourville threw the ball away in transition. Middlesboro capitalized with a pair a free throws from Warren that increased the lead to 57-51.
On the ensuing possession, the Lady Tigers threw the ball away again. Barbourville was able to prevent Middlesboro from scoring off that turnover and cut the lead to three, 57-54, after a layup from Smith and a free throw by Mills.
That was as close as the Lady Tigers would get to taking the lead. Consecutive baskets from Woody sparked a 6-0 run for Middlesboro that extended the lead to 63-54. A layup by Mills ended the run and narrowed the deficit to 63-56.
The two teams swapped baskets down the stretch with a pair of free throws by Poe giving the Lady Jackets a 69-59 lead with 45.3 seconds remaining.
A layup by Daniels cut the lead to eight, but Barbourville wasted about 20 seconds off the clock before fouling Woody with 2.3 seconds remaining in the game. Woody missed the free throw, and Middlesboro walked away with the eight-point victory.
Middlesboro (5-7) will battle Harlan (7-7) in the semifinal round of the 13th Region All A Classic on Thursday.
Barbourville (5-9) returns to action on Jan. 15 when they travel to Thomas Walker.
Middlesboro 69, Barbourville 61
Hannah Warren 4 2-2 13, Baylee Woody 7 0-1 15, Jamayha Poe 4 7-7 15, Malorie Carter 1 0-0 2, Grace Moles 2 2-2 6, Lakin Burke 5 1-2 12, Kailey Owens 3 0-0 6. Totals: 26 12-19 69.
Shelbie Jones 3 4-5 10, Anna Daniels 9 9-13 27, Lucy Robinson 0 0-0 0, Caylan Mills 3 1-2 8, Abba Smith 4 5-7 15, Breanna Gallagher 0 1-2 1. Totals: 19 20-29 61.
Middlesboro 8 28 16 17 — 69
Barbourville 13 6 23 19 — 61
3-point goals: Middlesboro 5 (Warren 3, Woody 1, Burke 1), Barbourville 3 (Smith 2, Mills 1).
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN