The Harlan County Lady Bears were unable to close out Corbin in the 13th Region semifinals on Saturday. Harlan County led with less than a minute remaining, but the Lady Redhounds made enough plays down the stretch to escape with a 47-43 victory.
The Lady Bears led by as much as eight in the first quarter. Lauren Lee and Brooklyn Massingill drained back-to-back 3-pointers to put Harlan County up 12-4 six minutes into the period. The Lady Hounds responded with a run to close the period. Sarah Ashley and Jaclyn Jewell each hit one-of-two from the free throw line and Natalye Gallagher followed with an offensive rebound putback to close the gap to 12-8. Corbin had five points off of four offensive rebounds in the first eight minutes.
The Lady Bears fared much better on the glass in the second quarter. Harlan County outrebounded Corbin 7-4, with four boards coming on the offensive end. However, that wasn’t enough to keep the Lady Hounds from reducing the deficit by two.
An offensive rebound putback from Lauren Lee put Harlan County up by eight with three minutes left in the half, but Corbin closed the period with an 8-2 run. Jewell started the rally with a 3-pointer before Evans answered with a basket on the opposite end. The senior center had 10 points in the first half.
Gallagher made it a five-point game on a basket with 2:09 remaining. Miranda Wilson followed with a free throw, and Sarah Ashley added a pair from the charity stripe to close the scoring with 17 seconds left in the period and make it 25-23.
The Lady Bears battled foul trouble on the inside in the third quarter. Senior forward Madison Cornett fouled out in the period, while Evans picked up her fourth and was forced to miss much of the period.
‘We played with the four gaurds and Kiesha and played hard. We were pretty consistent with it, but we lacked with our size on the offensive end. I was proud of the kids fighting through that circumstance with the foul situation like it was,” said Harlan County coach Anthony Nolan.
The Lady Hounds took advantage of the size mismatch in the post. Corbin had four offensive rebounds in the quarter and Gallagher, a sophomore center, closed with three straight points to tie the game at 31.
“The killed us on the boards in the first half. I felt like we came out and did a much better job of rebounding on both ends of the floor in the second half,” said Corbin coach Jennifer Parsons.
Stittums found Mimes for a basket underneath as Harlan County went up 43-40 with 1:15 remaining in the final period. Stittums had seven points in the fourth quarter to power Harlan County down the stretch.
“I think she definately wanted the ball in her hands. She is capable of making plays and she has. I think she has matured in that role, but we made some bad decisions, and Corbin capitalized every time we did,” Nolan said.
Disney put the Lady Hounds back on top with a basket in the lane with 36 seconds remaining. The Lady Bears were unable to answer on the opposite end and Stittums picked up a technical following the possession. Sarah Ashley hit both free throw attempts and then another with 15 seconds left to seal the win.
“We had the lead with a minute to go and we did everything we could to lose the game. It just comes down to whether the kids want to make the plays or not, and we had some that didn’t want to make the plays,” Nolan said. “We played hard to put ourself in position there at the end, but we had some breakdowns, and it cost us.”
Corbin (26-8) will face Bell County in the 13th Region Championship on Monday.
“This is just a testament to this team. They never say die. The are redusing to lose. As long as we keep that attitude it will take us a long way,” Parsons said.
Harlan County closes the season at 26-7. The Lady Bears will return one of the top backcourts in the 13th Region next season, but must replace its rotation in the post.
“I think this team has probably overachieved. If they were a sponge I would say we squeezed them dry. They played hard for us and were coacheable about every night,” Nolan said.
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Corbin (47) – Kayla Wilson 5, Miranda Wilson 13, Brooklyn Ashurst 1, Sarah Ashley 10, Holli Disney 4, Jacelyn Jewell 4, Natalye Gallagher 7, Kristin Fothergill 0, Melanie Wilson 3.
Harlan County (43) – Kaitlyn Stittums 11, Brooklyn Massingill 8, Lauren Lee 9, Madison Cornett 2, Sarah Evans 11, Keisha Mimes 2, Bella Noe 0.