Christmas Break couldn’t get here soon enough for the Middlesboro Lady Jackets and coach Elgie Green. An already young team has battled injuries and one of the most challenging early season schedules in the 13th Region. Tuesday’s 59-35 loss to Corbin was the latest setback as MHS fell to 0-9.
The Lady Jackets played Tuesday without their two leading scorers and rebounders as freshman Anajae Stephney was lost for the year with a torn ACL she suffered in the second game of the season. 7th-grader Blair Green also sat out with a high hamstring pull that has bothered her for most of the year.
“You take Anajae and Blair out of the line up and we’re even younger and more inexperienced at the varsity level,” Green said. “I just want them to play hard, be aggressive and just don’t lay down.”
They were able to accomplish that much on Tuesday as the final score was much closer than the earlier meeting between the teams that Corbin won 85-44.
Middlesboro was led by senior forward Carissa Padgett, who scored a game-high 17 points. Freshman Bailey Hensley added eight points for the Lady Jackets.
Miranda Wilson scored 11 points to lead the Lady Redhounds while Kayla Wilson finished with ten points in the win.
The Lady Jackets came out playing tough defense and got baskets from Padgett and Kelsie Hensley as they trailed just 8-4 midway through the opening quarter.
Miranda Wilson hit a 3 for Corbin and Holli Disney scored a pair of baskets inside then four different Lady Hounds came off the bench to score baskets as they opened up a 15-6 lead by the end of the first period.
“The opening four minutes we played extremely hard. I liked our effort and I liked our attitude,” said Green. “Then all of a sudden there were a couple of loose balls that we didn’t get on the floor and get after and Corbin kids picked them up and scored off of them. The next thing you know it’s a ten or twelve-point ballgame.”
Bailey Hensley hit a 3-pointer early in the second quarter and Padgett scored four points, but Wilson scored six as the Lady Hounds closed the half on a 13-2 run and led 35-13 at the break.
A 3-pointer from junior Amanda Biscardi brought the Lady Jackets as close as 39-19 in the third quarter, but Corbin continued to pull away behind their superior depth. Eleven different players found the scoring column in the game for the Lady Hounds. Melanie Wilson hit a 3-pointer and by the end of the third the lead was back out to 49-21.
Padgett and Bailey Hensley became more aggressive in driving to the basket in the fourth quarter as they scored five points each to help Middlesboro cut into the deficit. Kelsie Hensley and Baylie Brunsma added transition baskets as the Lady Jackets got as close as 20 points before ultimately dropping the 24-point decision.
“We want Carissa to look for her shot. We want her when she catches it on the perimeter against man-to-man to take it to the basket,” Green added. “We’ve got to get our three seniors (Padgett, Kelsie Hensley and Taylor Moyers) to be more aggressive and go to the hole. Right now we’re just hesitant and not doing that.”
Middlesboro (0-9) will return to action on Dec. 27, when they’ll take on Lee County at 4 p.m. in the Pine Mountain Classic at Pineville.
Green said the break comes at a good time for his team.
“The pre-Christmas tournament that we usually play in was cancelled before the season and that works out pretty good for us. Bailey played with a turned ankle and she’s a little gimpy so if we can get her and Blair back healthy that’s going to help us,” he said. “This nine-game stretch we’ve played is one of the toughest in the region. The games won’t get any easier, but I think this break will help the kids to refocus. We’ve got the tournament in Pineville and then a week of practice before we play Bell County. We just want to keep trying to get better.”
Corbin (8-5) also breaks for Christmas and will play next in the KSA Events in Orlando, Fla., against a yet to be determined opponent on Dec. 28.
— — —
Corbin………..15…20…14…10 — 59
Middlesboro…6…..7…..8…14 — 35
CORBIN (59): Miranda Wilson 11, Kayla Wilson 10, Brooklyn Ashurst 8, Jaclyn Jewell 8, Melanie Wilson 8, Holli Disney 4, Morgan Philpot 4, Kristin Fothergill 2, Natalye Gallagher 2, Bryanna Moore 1, Meghann Blackburn 1, Sarah Ashley 0, Bridgette Smallwood 0.
MIDDLESBORO (35): Carissa Padgett 17, Bailey Hensley 8, Kelsie Hensley 4, Amanda Biscardi 3, Baylie Brunsma 2, Lauren Spurlock 1, Taylor Moyers 0, Taylor Prater 0, Hannah Warren 0, Sophia Knuckles 0, Morgan Thompson 0.