Bell County put on a shooting clinic in the first half of their 78-57 win over Harlan on Monday. The Lady Cats went 18 of 25 from the field over the first two quarters to open up a 20-point lead, then answered a third-quarter Lady Dragon run with a strong final period to put the game away.
Junior guard Maci Morris led four Lady Cats in double-figures by hitting 10 of 17 shots and 11 of 12 free throws for 32 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Senior Morgan Garnett went 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and finished with 13 points while Jess Sanders added ten points to go along with five assists and Kelli Smith also scored ten points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Bell County (16-3, 4-0 in 52nd District play) hasn’t lost since the calender flipped to 2014 and the 8-0 run includes wins over 13th Region contenders Harlan County, at Corbin and at Clay County as well as victories over Leslie County and Magoffin County in the WYMT Mountain Classic.
“We’ve played pretty well lately. I just keep telling the girls in practice to keep focusing on trying to push ourselves to get better. We don’t want to just even out here, we want to keep seeing progress,” Lady Cat coach David Teague said. “We have played well these last few games and I’ve been pleased with their effort. That’s what I really like is their effort and their focus.”
Freshman Emma Bianchi was a bright spot in the post for the Lady Dragons. She scored 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including a 3-pointer, and led Harlan (14-9, 1-2) with 11 rebounds. Jordan Brock added 12 points and four assists with McKenzie King chipping in eight points off the bench.
Bell County never trailed as Morris knocked down a 15-foot jumper on the Lady Cats’ first possession and then drove in for a layup after rebounding a Harlan miss for a quick 4-0 lead. Bianchi scored for the Lady Dragons, but Garnett hit a 3 and a Smith steal led to another Morris layup to make it 9-2 less than three minutes in.
A trey from Sanders pushed the lead to ten before Harlan got going with a Masie Charles basket, two free throws from Brock and Bianchi’s 3-pointer to cut the lead to 16-11.
Smith hit consecutive 3s and Sanders drove the baseline for a bucket as Bell led it 24-13 after one period.
The Lady Cats hit six of their first eight shots in second quarter with Sarah Collins scoring on offensive rebounds after both misses. Allison Howard’s basket inside made it 38-22 with 2:35 to play in the half. Morris and Garnett added baskets and Bell’s halftime lead was 45-25.
“I think seven different players scored for them in the first half. Bell County is the best team in the Mountains and in this region for a reason. If you give them wide-open looks, give them offensive rebounds and penetrating lanes — which we did a lot — they’re going to take advantage of it,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said.
“Defensively we were just bad and had no discipline. I’m one of those that look in the mirror and I think it’s a direct reflection of the coaching at this point. I’ve got to do a better job of getting them in position to play good defense. But hats off to Bell County.”
Garnett and Morris hit treys early in the third quarter as the lead grew to 26 points. A 3 from Sanders with 3:12 left in the period had the Lady Cats up 58-34.
The Lady Dragons reeled off ten straight points to get back into the game. Bianchi started it with a basket, Ledford hit three free throws and Brock nailed a 3-pointer before a Charles bucket made it 58-44 with 1:10 still to go in the quarter and it was 60-46 after three.
“A lot of that I think was Bell County just took their foot off the pedal. They jumped on us early and then kind of coasted for a while. When we made a run they just pushed it back out. They executed and we didn’t,”Akal said.
Morris opened the fourth quarter by hitting a runner in the lane and then added two free throws on the next Bell possession. Later Garnett sank a 3-pointer and then hit both ends of the bonus to push the lead back to 69-49 with 4:32 to play and the Lady Cats went on to the 21-point win.
“In the third quarter they were bringing our guards down and posting us up a little bit and we had to make a bit of an adjustment. I felt like our guards did a really good job on their guards. Brock and Ledford are really nice players and we wanted to limit their touches and I thought we did a good job of that,” Teague added. “We got a little confused defensively at times, then we had some turnovers and just kind of stalled the ball out and wasn’t moving it. We got back focused and pushed out a few baskets and took the momentum back.”
Both teams continue district play with Harlan visiting Harlan County both today and Thursday while Bell County travels to Middlesboro on Friday.
Prior to Monday’s tip-off Bell County recognized coach Teague for reaching 100 career wins last week against Middlesboro. Now in his fifth season as the Lady Cat head coach, his teams have gone a combined 103-37 with three regional tournament appearances, one 52nd District championship and a run to the regional championship game last season. Last year’s 27 wins were a school record. Teague was presented with a game ball signed by most of the players he has coached along with his assistant coaches by his father, also David Teague.
“I had no idea they were even doing that. It was a special thing and I give all the credit for that to the girls that have played for me. They’re the ones who have been out there defending and shooting the shots,” Teague said. “Several of them were here tonight and a lot of them had signed the ball. I’m grateful to them for that.”
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|Bell Co. 78, Harlan 57|
HARLAN (14-9, 1-2)
Jordan Brock 4-13 3-5 12, Jourdan Ledford 0-6 6-8 6, Emma Bianchi 7-13 4-5 19, Masie Charles 2-4 0-0 4, Kaitlyn Jenkins 1-3 0-0 2, McKenzie King 3-8 2-6 8, Tori Mitchell 1-4 0-0 2, Madelynn Henson 1-1 0-0 2, Leah Evans 1-2 0-0 2, Katie King 0-0 0-0 0, Shanae Thomas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-54 15-24 57.
BELL COUNTY (16-3, 4-0)
Jess Sanders 4-8 0-0 10, Maci Moris 10-17 11-12 32, Kelli Smith 4-6 0-0 10, Morgan Garnett 4-5 2-2 13, Katrina Johnson 2-2 1-2 5, Sarah Collins 3-4 0-2 6, Allison Howard 1-1 0-0 2, Kaitlyn Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Kaylia Hoskins 0-0 0-0 0, Caleigh Collett 0-1 0-0 0, Alex Brock 0-0 0-0 0, Bethany Miracle 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-44 14-18 78.
|3-point goals: Harlan 2-10 (Brock 1-4, Bianchi 1-1, Ledford 0-3, Mitchell 0-2), Bell 8-14 (Garnett 3-4, Smith 2-3, Sanders 2-4, Morris 1-2, Collett 0-1). Rebounds: Harlan 25 (Bianchi 11, MKing 6), Bell 31 (Morris 14, Smith 8). Assists: Harlan 10 (Brock 4, Bianchi 3), Bell 11 (Sanders 5, Morris 2, Garnett 2, Johnson 2). Turnovers: Harlan 13, Bell 19. Total fouls: Harlan 16, Bell 19. Fouled out: none. Techinical fouls: Harlan 1 (bench).|