The Middlesboro Lady Jackets shot a blistering 68-percent during the second and third quarters of Friday’s game at Pineville, they turned a four-point deficit into a 12-point lead during that time and held off a late Lady Lions surge for a 48-42 win.
Led by eighth-grader Blair Green’s 21 points and ten rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting, Middlesboro hit 17 of their 34 field goal attempts in the game and also hit an even 50-percent of their 3-pointers (6-12). Sophomore guard Bailey Hensley hit all three of her 3-pointers and finished with 12 points despite battling foul trouble for most of the game.
“Our last two games we really didn’t play with any effort or any focus. In this one our kids came out ready to play,” Lady Jacket coach Elgie Green said. “They got up on us quick and we got in foul trouble early, but we rebounded really well as a team and I thought we made good decisions. Once we started hitting shots and got running up and down the floor, everything kind of fell into place.”
Pineville simply had an off-night shooting the ball. The Lady Lions shot just 31-percent (12-of-39) for the game and hit just three of 19 shots from beyond the arc. Senior Devin Enix led PHS with 13 points, while Erica Gambrell added 11 and Emily Mullins 10.
Green opened the game with a quick 3-pointer, but Pineville scored the next eight points (six by Enix and two by Mullins). Malorie Carter converted a three-point play after grabbing an offensive rebound, then two free throws from Mullins had the Lady Lions up 10-6 after one.
After going just 2-for-7 in the first quarter, Middlesboro hit eight of their 11 shots in the second (including 3-of-4 from long range). They opened the second period with an 11-1 run to take the lead for good. A basket from Morgan Thompson and a 3 from Hensley tied the game at 11. Then baskets from Lauren Spurlock and Green made it 15-11 with 4:14 to play in the half.
Mullins hit a 3 to bring Pineville within one, then Green answered with a trey of her own and scored inside off a feed from Thompson to stretch the lead to five.
“They were in that 1-2-2 and I thought we did a good job of coming up and setting a screen on that top person. We put Bailey down in the corner and when Blair would come off she could either go to the basket or draw them and find Bailey alone in the corner,” Green said. “And Bailey hit the shots. To be a good team you’ve got to hit shots and we did that tonight.”
Gambrell and Hensley would exchange 3s, but Green finished with nine points in the quarter as the Lady Jackets led 25-21 at the break.
Three-pointers from Hensley and Amanda Biscardi extended the lead to ten and Green scored off a pretty touch-pass from Hannah Warren to make it 33-21 with 4:25 to go in the third quarter. Another Green basket put Middlesboro up by 14 before Gambrell converted a three-point play for the first Lady Lion points of the second half. With 2:39 to go in the quarter it was 35-24.
Jillian Enix also had a three-point play for Pineville before two free throws from Green had the Lady Jackets up 39-27 after three. That MHS was able to extend their lead was even more impressive since Hensley went to the bench with her fourth foul less than two minutes into the period.
“Overall, I’m just proud of this bunch. As bad as we played the last two ballgames, for them to come in here to a hostile environment, keep their composure and play through that is a big step in their maturation process,” Green said.
Hensley returned to start the fourth quarter and hit both ends of the bonus with 5:34 to play to match Middlesboro’s biggest lead of the night, at 43-29.
That remained the score until a Mullins steal led to two free throws at the 2:35 mark. Gambrell drove in for a layup and was fouled, she missed the free throw but Jillian Enix got the rebound and hit two free throws to bring Pineville within eight. The younger Enix finished with six points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Thompson scored inside for the Lady Jackets, then Gambrell hit three of four free throws over the next two possessions. Devin Enix drove in for a layup after an MHS turnover and it was 45-40 with 1:03 to play.
“When you’ve got a 12-14 point lead with four minutes to play, you don’t need that 3-point shot. That’s something they’ll learn,” Green added. “They’re young and we haven’t really been in that position this year. When we’ve won, except for one, we’ve been up 20. When we’ve lost, we’ve been down 20.”
Thompson, Green and Hensley hit one free throw apiece down the stretch to push the lead to eight before Lady Lion Rachel Barnes scored late to set the final at 48-42.
Devin Enix suffered shoulder injury in the closing seconds while going for a steal and had to be helped from the court in quite a bit of pain. Pineville coach Brenda Gambrel was helping tend to Enix after the game and was unavailable for an interview.
Pineville (10-9) plays at Southwestern on Tuesday.
Middlesboro made it two wins in a row on with a 48-35 win over Jackson County on Saturday. The Lady Jackets (8-11) host Harlan County on Monday at 6 p.m. in the first game of a 52nd District double-header.
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MIDDLESBORO (48) — Blair Green 21, Bailey Hensley 12, Lauren Spurlock 4, Amanda Biscardi 3, Hannah Warren 0, Malorie Carter 3, Morgan Thompson 5, Jamayha Poe 0.
PINEVILLE (42) — Devin Enix 13, Erica Gambrell 11, Emily Mullins 10, Jillian Enix 6, Rachel Barnes 2, Sophia Knuckles 0.