By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
BENHAM—There’s not many things that are free in today’s world, so when you have the chance to get something for free, you’d better make sure you take it.
South Laurel found that out the hard way Friday night.
The Lady Cardinals hit just 11 of 27 free throws in a 66-63 loss to Harlan County. That’s 16 free points South Laurel left at the line.
“It’s a little different shooting in here,” South Laurel coach Konnie Snyder said of Harlan County’s gym. “It’s a different background. But that’s no excuse. We’ve got to hit our free throws.”
Snyder also noted that her team gave up too many three-point plays.
“They had 10 possession where they got three points either from making the basket and free throw or shooting the three,” Snyder said.
If you take those two things away, was Snyder happy with the way her team played?
“Yes and no,” Snyder said. “I would have liked to have seen us finish the game. We led throughout most of the second half but we didn’t finish. That’s disappointing.”
Harlan County (2-0) was paced by Brooklyn Massingill, who poured in 28 points, including four 3-pointers. Kaitlyn Stittums added 11 and Lauren Lee, 10.
The game was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than seven points. The Lady Black Bears led after one, 16-15. It might have been more had it not been for the play of Brittany Vandeventer, who came off the bench to score nine points and have three big steals in the first half, including two in a row that gave her team an 11-6 lead.
“She was a spark for us in the first half,” Snyder said. “And that helps when you can have players come off the bench and contribute like that.”
A Vandeventer three with 5:21 left in the first half gave South (1-1) a 23-21 lead. That would be the last Lady Cardinal field goal until Cassandra Johnson stole the ball and scored with 1:35 left to pull her team back to within two, 27-25. The Lady Cards trailed at the half, 30-29.
Harlan County’s defense held Taylor Arthur in check throughout the first half, limiting her to just four points. That changed in the second half as South was able to work the ball down low to Arthur for 15 points as she would finish with 19 to lead the Lady Cards.
It was back and forth throughout the third quarter until Harlan County took a 38-33 lead on a three from Lee and a Massingill basket with 5:31 left. The Lady Black Bears held that lead until the three minute mark, when a turnaround jumper from Arthur tied the game at 41-41 and sparked an 9-0 lead that saw South take a 48-41 lead with 25.6 seconds left. South led 48-43 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Cards pushed that lead to 51-46 at the 6:43 mark before Massingill drained two straight threes to give her team the 52-51 lead.
South Laurel took the lead again at the 3:59 mark, on a basket from Arthur off a Johnson assist, to make it 56-54. But a steal by Lee and a three from Massingill pushed the home team back in front, 57-56.
Another Arthur basket, this time off a Bailey Miller assist, gave South a 58-57 lead. Arthur scored again with 1:09 left for a 60-59 lead, South’s last of the game.
Stittums scored the next five points to up Harlan County’s lead to 64-60 before Madyson Morris drained a three with 3.8 seconds left to cut the lead to one, 64-63. Massingill was then fouled, and she made both free throws to again give her team a three point lead, 66-63. South tried for one last gasp when Johnson inbounded the ball with a baseball throw toward Arthur, but Bella Noe intercepted the ball to end the game.
After Arthur’s 19, Vandeventer scored 12 and Johnson, 10. Emily Clonce just missed double figures with nine points.
The Lady Cards will host Whitley County Tuesday in a key 50th District game.
Harlan County 66, South Laurel 63
South Laurel 15 14 19 18—63
Harlan County 16 14 13 20—66
SOUTH LAUREL (63)—Clonce 9, Johnson 10, Vandeventer 12, Arthur 19, Baker 4, Morris 6, Miller 3.
HARLAN COUNTY (66)—Stittums 11, Mimes 4, Massingill 28, Cornett 2, Shackleford 9, Evans 2, Lee 10.