Surging Lady Jackets defeat Harlan

When they started the season at 1-8, the Middlesboro Lady Jackets had the look of a team heading for its eighth straight finish as the fourth seed in the 52nd District.

The Lady Jackets have made quite a transformation since then, winning 11 of their last 19, capped by a 47-34 victory Saturday at Harlan to lock up the second seed in the district tournament in two weeks at Bell County.

Freshman forward Kailey Owens scored 15 points to lead the 12-16 Lady Jackets. Brittany Davis and Bailey Woody added 11 and 10 points, respectively.

“I’m just so proud of my team for the way they have battled all year,” Middlesboro coach Scott Overbay said. “They could have kept there heads down after the start of the season. We came together as a team right before the All ‘A” and they are working hard to get better each day.”

The 7-19 Lady Dragons were led by senior guard Payeton Charles with 11 points.

Harlan struggled mightily on offense all night, shooting 18 percent (10 of 57) from the field. The Lady Dragons were also in quite a hurry while they were missing shots, playing at a breakneck speed for much of the game.

“We had a whole lot of offensive struggles,” Harlan coach Tiffany Hamm said. “We played pretty well on defense and on the boards, but we just couldn’t overcome our offensive problems. We want to play fast, but we weren’t under control at times. They play a lot of junk defenses, and we didn’t always handle it well. I have to give them credit for their defense.”

Harlan missed 17 of 18 shots in the opening quarter as Middlesboro built a 13-8 lead, led by three baskets from Woody.

Charles had three baskets in the second quarter and Madison Cole came off the bench to hit a pair of 3-pointers as Harlan took a brief lead, at 19-18. Middlesboro battled back behind Owens to go back up by two, at 28-26, going into halftime.

Both offenses struggled in the third quarter as Middlesboro outscored Harlan 6-0. The Lady Dragons missed all 12 of their shots from the field as the Lady Jackets stretched their advantage to 34-28.

Harlan returns to action Monday at home against Williamsburg with junior varsity action starting at 5 p.m. with the varsity game starting around 6:30 after Senior Night festivities. Middlesboro closes its regular season schedule Tuesday at home against Knox Central.

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Middlesboro 47, Harlan 34

MIDDLESBORO (12-16)

Brittany Davis 4-9 3-7 11, Grace Gent 2-6 4-5 8, Bailey Woody 5-15 0-0 10, Grace Temple 1-4 1-2 3, Kailey Owens 6-14 3-3 15, Aubrey Sowders 0-0 0-0 0, Macy Mink 0-0 0-0 0, Kirsten Keith 0-2 0-0 0, Grace Moles 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 18-51 11-17 47.

HARLAN (7-19)

Payeton Charles 3-10 4-6 11, Ella Karst 2-11 2-2 7, Savanna Smith 0-6 0-2 0, Natalee King 2-18 2-4 6, Alli Thompson 0-2 0-0 0, Angel Wynn 0-0 0-0 0, Peighton Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Reagan Jones 1-6 0-0 2, Madison Cole 2-4 0-0 6, Emma Owens 0-0 0-0 0, Kaylee Leslie 0-0 2-4 2, Ella Morton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 10-57 10-18 34.

Middlesboro 13 15 6 13 — 47

Harlan 8 18 0 8 — 34

3-point goals: Middlesboro 0-7 (Davis 0-1, Woody 0-1, Gent 0-2, Owens 0-3), Harlan 4-18 (Cole 2-4, Charles 1-3, Karst 1-4, King 0-1, R. Jones 0-1, Smith 0-5). Rebounds: Middlesboro 34 (Woody 7, Gent 6, Owens 6, Sowders 4, Davis 3, Temple 3, Moles 2, Keith 2, Mink 1), Harlan 40 (King 12, R. Jones 7, Thompson 6, Charles 4, Smith 4, Wynn 2, Leslie 2, Karst 1, Cole 1, P. Jones 1). Turnovers: Middlesboro 19, Harlan 20. Fouled out: None.