Lady Jackets beat Knox, 54-44
Jay Compton Sports Editor
A stomach bug may have slowed down Middlesboro’s Blair Green and Bailey Hensley on Monday, but neither it nor Knox Central could stop them from leading the Lady Jackets to a 54-44 win.
Green scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Hensley added 14 points and five assists as Middlesboro won their second straight game.
“I didn’t know if those two were even going to be able to finish. They were struggling just to finish the ballgame,” Lady Jacket coach Elgie Green said. “We had two starters to foul out in the final few minutes of the game and had to put two seventh-graders in there against some helter-skelter full-court pressure. They stepped in there and did a real nice job, but we had to have Blair and Bailey on the floor just to bring the ball up late.”
Green, an eighth-grade forward, hit two 3s in the opening period on her way to eight points. Hensley also connected from deep and Hannah Warren added a basket as the Lady Jackets built a 13-8 lead despite two 3s from Knox Central’s Taylor Patterson.
Middlesboro continued to pull away in the second period as the Lady Panthers were held to two free throws by Cassi Hale and one from Mariah Barrett until late in the half. Maddie Pennington and Abigail Mills hit 3s in the final two minutes to keep Central close, but Green and Hensley both scored baskets late and Jamayha Poe added a layup as MHS went into the half up 27-17.
Morgan Thompson scored inside for the Lady Jackets early in the second half, but Knox got a basket from Melanie Gregory and then a 3-pointer from Hale to cut the lead to 29-22 with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter.
The Lady Jackets answered with a Green free throw, a 3-pointer from senior guard Amanda Biscardi, and a long 2 from Warren during a quick 6-0 run that pushed the lead to 35-22.
Gregory scored for the Lady Panthers, but Middlesboro was off and running again. A Biscardi steal led to a Green layup, she hit a little jumper and Hensley hit one free throw to give the Lady Jackets their biggest lead of the night at 40-25 with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.
Megan Wagers scored inside before the end of the quarter for Knox and Tyra McNeil hit a free throw after the opening possession of the fourth to make it 40-28. At the other end Biscardi came down with an offensive rebound to extend the MHS possession and then capped it with another 3-pointer to push the lead back to 15.
“They were maybe more physical than we were inside, but our kids did an excellent job of boxing out and rebounding the basketball,” Green said. “We took care of the ball and made a lot of good decisions. Amanda got a couple of big rebounds and she hit two big shots for us.”
Wagers scored six points during a 7-3 Lady Panther run, including a three-point play that cut the lead to 46-35 with 4:29 to play.
But Hensley got away from the Knox press and into the front court with a full head of steam. She drew the defense and found Poe under the basket for layup
Hensley went 5-for-6 from the free throw line down the stretch as the Lady Jackets went on to the win. Knox Central got a late basket from Sydni Hammontree and two free throws each from Patterson and Hale to set the final at 54-44.
“It was a good team effort, a good team win,” Green added. “Blair and Bailey both stepped up and hit their free throws when we needed them to keep that margin up to nine or ten points. That was big for them to be that tired and be sick and be able to focus and hit those free throws.”
Patterson and Hale each finished with nine points to lead the Lady Panthers with Wagers scoring eight off the bench. Knox Central (2-1) will play at Corbin on Dec. 16.
On Saturday, the Lady Jackets got 24 points from Green and 13 from Hensley in a 45-27 win over Williamsburg. Warren chipped in with six points in that one while Biscardi added two. Williamsburg (0-3) was led by Kacie Brown’s 15 points.
With one senior, three sophomores and the rest of the roster comprised of middle schoolers this season figures to be one with a lot of learning for the Lady Jackets. Their first lesson: the game gets a lot easier when they don’t have to contend with a dominant post player like Perry Central senior Kayla Rankin.
Rankin scored 40 points and grabbed close to 30 rebounds to lead the Lady Commodores to a 65-43 win over Middlesboro in the season opener.
“We got in foul trouble with our posts down there and were just outmatched in the second half. Basically she just shot and rebounded it until she scored. That was the difference in that game,” Green said. “But our girls are very competitive, they play hard and I’ve been pleased with how they run our offense. They’re just doing a lot of good things to be as young as they are and playing at this level.”
Middlesboro (2-1) will play at Harlan County on Friday in their 52nd District opener.
“These last two games we knew we could be competitive and could win. The kids came out and played with confidence,” Green added. “It’s going to be a different story on Friday. Harlan County is a lot bigger, a lot more physical and they’ve got a lot more experience. I just want everybody to get healthy and we’ll go in there and compete and see what happens.”
— — —
KNOX CENTRAL (44) — Taylor Patterson 9, Cassi Hale 9, Tyra McNeil 4, Melanie Gregory 4, Mariah Barrett 1, Megan Wagers 8, Maddie Pennington 4, Abigail Mills 3, Sydni Hammontree 2, Toni McCombs 0.
MIDDLESBORO (54) — Blair Green 24, Bailey Hensley 14, Amanda Biscardi 6, Hannah Warren 4, Morgan Thompson 2, Jamayha Poe 4, Baylee Woody 0.
— — —
WILLIAMSBURG (27) — Kacie Brown 15, Lexi Boggs 4, Haley Harris 0, Sydney Tye 0, DHatfield 0, Erin Maxey 4, KGriffith 2, JMonhollen 2, Marah Crusenberry 0, KBaker 0.
MIDDLESBORO (44) — Blair Green 24, Bailey Hensley 13, Hannah Warren 6, Amanda Biscardi 2, Morgan Thompson 0, Jamayha Poe 0, Baylee Woody 0, Malorie Carter 0, Hannah Crawford 0, Jackie Biscardi 0.
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