Clay County’s size advantage was just too much for the Lady Jackets to overcome on Friday. Senior forward Cheyenne Madden scored 31 points to lead the Lady Tigers to a 71-41 win.
“She just put on a show, you know. She was the preseason number one player in the region. She’s got the height, a physical body, she’s an athlete, we just couldn’t do anything with her,” Middlesboro coach Elgie Green said. “Once she caught it, it was over with. We’re just not physical enough to match up with their post players.”
It was Senior Night and homecoming at MHS and the Lady Jackets played with some spunk and hung tough in the early going. Two baskets from freshman forward Lauren Spurlock and one from 7th-grader Blair Green had Middlesboro within 10-6 midway through the first quarter.
Clay got a 3s from TaLaura Mathis and Ajaycia Cotton and an inside basket from Morgan Chestnut to got up 18-8 by the 2:30 mark.
An inside basket from Moyers and a pair of free throws from Green had the Lady Jackets within 20-12, but Cotton scored twice as the Lady Tiger lead grew to 24-12 after one.
Madden took over the game in the second quarter and scored ten of Clay’s 12 points in the period. Middlesboro was held to just two baskets from Carissa Padgett and single free throws by Green and Spurlock and Clay County took a 36-18 lead into halftime.
Freshman guard Bailey Hensley got going in the third quarter for the Lady Jackets. She hit a pair of 3s and put up ten points, but Madden countered with ten more for the Lady Tigers as they were able to maintain their lead at about 20 points. It was 54-34 after three and they went on to win by 30.
Madden was joined in double-figures by Chestnut with 13 points. Mathis hit three 3-pointers for nine points and Cotton finished with seven.
“To me they’re the best team in the region,” Green said of the Lady Tigers. “They definitely have the two best post players in the region, their guards are solid, they have shooters and they play solid defense.”
Hensley led the Lady Jackets with 13 points while Blair Green added 12 and Padgett nine.
“I thought we actually didn’t play too bad. We ran our offense 85-percent of the time and got some good looks,” Green added. “Bailey had a good night shooting the basketball and she hit some big shots for us. The bottom line is that we just didn’t have the physical appearance in the paint to even compete with them.”
The Lady Jackets honored their three seniors as part of a ceremony at halftime. It was the final home game for Padgett, Taylor Moyers and Kelsey Hensley. Hensley got the start on Friday, it was her first appearance in several weeks since suffering a knee injury.
“Those are three great kids. Kelsey ‘s had a tough year with the knee injury and was just released (Thursday). I got her in there a couple of minutes at a time just to see how it felt, I didn’t want her to play long. She’s been a great kid to coach and she’s been easy to coach,” Green said.
“Her, Carissa Padgett and Taylor Moyers have all three been great leaders, they’ve had good attitudes and have worked hard. I hate that we’ve just won five basketball games in the regular season this year. In practice you would never know that we’d just won five games. I’m going to miss them and they’re all going to do excellent things in life. They’re all great students, all going to college.”
Both teams will open play in their district tournaments next week.
Middlesboro (5-20) will take on Harlan County in the 52nd District semifinals on Wednesday at Harlan. Clay County (24-5) will play the winner of Monday’s Oneida Baptist-Red Bird game on Wednesday in the 49th District semifinals at Jackson County.
— — —
Clay County…24…12…18…17 — 71
Middlesboro…12….6…16….7 — 41
CLAY COUNTY (71): Cheyenne Madden 31, Morgan Chestnut 13, TaLaura Mathis 9, Ajaycia Cotton 7, Sara Robinson 4, Courtney Woods 3, Kelli Roberts 2, Brianna Smith 2.
MIDDLESBORO (41): Bailey Hensley 13, Blair Green 12, Carissa Padgett 9, Lauren Spurlock 5, Taylor Moyers 2, Kelsey Hensley 0, Taylor Prater 0, Amanda Biscardi 0, Sophia Knuckles 0.