MIDDLESBORO— For the first 14 years of her life, Fuson Brother Gymnasium was a second home for Blair Green, in the days when her parents were the coaches of the Middlesboro girls basketball program.
Green, who moved to Harlan County when her mother became head coach before the 2014-2015 season, played like she felt right at home on Friday, hitting eight of her 11 shots in a dominating first half as she led the Harlan County Lady Bears to a 60-25 victory over Middlesboro.
“I think Blair’s confidence on her shooting is getting high,” said Harlan County coach Debbie Green. “She was able to get in the flow of the game pretty early. We had several girls who shot well in the first half. We settled down in the second quarter and played our game.”
Green, a 6-1 junior guard, scored 20 points and 6-0 foot junior center Kaylea Gross added 17 points and 11 rebounds as the Lady Bears improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in district action.
“We did some things positive early in the game, but we just couldn’t match up with their size,” said Middlesboro coach Ron Edwards. “We tried to triple team Gross, but she just powered through us. We’re trying to get better, but this is a tough district.”
Sophomore guard Baylee Woody scored six points to lead the Lady Jackets, who fell to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the district.
Two baskets by Green and one by Gross gave HCHS a quick 6-0 lead that grew to 13-2 after two more Green baskets and one by Rebecca Middleton.
Five straight points by Aubrey Sowders sparked a comeback by the Lady Jackets, who got as close eight, at 19-11. Middleton’s 3-pointer helped stop the run and give HCHS a 22-13 lead one quarter.
After hitting six of 16 shots in the opening period, the Lady Jackets went ice cold in the second, missing all eight shots from the field as they were outscored 16-0. Green hit four of five shots in the quarter to lead Harlan County.
“Our defense did a nice job, especially after the first quarter,” said the HCHS coach. “It was good to get a district win. I thought everyone played hard and played well.”
Woody broke the drought with a basket to open the third period, but Gross took over after that with five straight points. A Green steal and basket followed by a Gross basket off a Green steal pushed the Harlan County lead to 33. A free throw and a basket by sophomore forward Breann Turner stretched the Lady Bears’ lead to 51-17 after three quarters.
Seven straight points by sophomore guard Reanna Middleton, including a 3-pointer, extended Harlan County’s advantage to 58-20 and started a running clock less than two minutes into the fourth period.
Harlan County returns to action Saturday at home against South Laurel in a 3:30 p.m. game matching two of the region’s top three teams in the preseason. Middlesboro travels to Red Bird on Saturday.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134