By Les Dixon
HARLAN COUNTY — The calm, cool and collected Corbin Lady Redhounds didn’t let any adversity affect them during their 47-43 win over Harlan County during Saturday’s 13th Region Girls Tournament Semifinals.
The Lady Black Bears (26-6) entered the game with a perfect 12-0 record at home, but that came to an end as Corbin (26-8) captured its sixth straight win and has now won 14-of-its-last 15 games.
“I’m pleased, obviously, with my team’s effort from start to finish,” Corbin coach Jennifer Parsons said. “There were times when Harlan County got the momentum and I felt like we never stopped playing. That’s been our attitude all year — never say die.
“We kept our cool and kept our poise when teams have made their runs on us this year,” she added. “The girls believe they can win and that’s important.”
Corbin battled back from an eight-point deficit in the first half and trailed by two (43-41) with 1:15 remaining in regulation before scoring the game’s final six points. Miranda Wilson hit one-of-two free throw shots to cut her team’s deficit to 43-42 after being fouled on a breakaway layup attempt.
Corbin’s Holli Disney scored a basket with :38 seconds remaining to give the lady Redhounds a lead (44-43) they would never relinquish. Teammate Sarah Ashley wrapped the game up for good by knocking down three-of-four free throw attempts during the final 20 seconds.
“The free throws were key in the end,” Parsons said. “To step up and make them was big.”
Corbin will now face-off against Bell County today in its first 13th Region title game appearance since the 2006 season when Clay County beat the Lady Redhounds, 43-27. The last time Corbin won the the 13th Region championship was in 1982 when the Lady Redhounds posted a 32-8 record while advancing to the Elite Eight with a 54-49 win over Rowan County before losing to Louisville Mercy, 52-44.
Harlan County led by as much as eight points in the first quarter thanks to Corbin connecting on only two-of-11 shot attempts from the floor.
Back-to-back three-pointers by the Lady Black Bears’ Lauren Lee and Brooklyn Massingill gave their team a 12-4 advantage, but the Lady Redhounds managed to close out the first quarter with a 4-0 run to make the score, 12-8.
Harlan County’s lead grew to 23-15 with three minutes remaining in the first half, but Parsons’ squad once again put together another run and cut their deficit to 25-23 at halftime.
Jaclyn Jewell’s three-pointer at the 2:41 mark ignited the 10-4 run while Natalaye Gallagher added a basket along with two made free throws by Sarah Ashley.
Corbin began to take advantage of Harlan County’s Sarah Evans getting in foul trouble and began to get more aggressive offensively around the post, which resulted in a four-of-eight shooting effort from the free-throw line during the third quarter. Gallagher’s two free throws with 2:40 remaining in the period gave her team a short-lived 31-29 edge, as the Lady Black Bears’ Kaitlyn Stittums tied the game at 31 apiece going into the fourth quarter.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball during the quarter with Corbin hitting on only two-of-10 shot attempts while Harlan County was two-of-12.
Stittums took over during the first four minutes of the fourth quarter and scored the Lady Black Bears’ first seven points, giving them a 38-36 lead at the 3:17 mark.
Evans added a free throw with 2:40 remaining to make the score 39-36.
The Lady Redhounds were in desperate need of a basket, as Kayla Wilson came through with a three-pointer to tie the game at 39 apiece (2:16 remaining).
Both teams traded baskets before the Lady Black Bears took a 43-41 advantage at the 1:15 mark after a layup by Kiesha Mimes.
But Corbin responded in a big way.
A free throw by Miranda Wilson began a rally that saw the Lady Redhounds go on a 6-0 run to stun Harlan County, as Corbin picked up the win.
Miranda Wilson led Corbin in scoring with a 12-point effort while hitting six-of-nine attempts from the free-throw line.
The Lady Redhounds connected on 14-of-34 shot attempts while outrebounding the Lady Black Bears, 25-22. Harlan County turned the ball over 13 times and hit 18-of-54 shot attempts for the game.
13th Region Girl Tournament at Harlan County High School
Corbin 47, Harlan County 43
Corbin 8 15 8 16 47
Harlan County 12 13 6 12 43
Corbin (47) — Mi. Wilson 12, K. Wilson 9, Ashurst 1, Ashley 7, Disney 6, Gallagher 7, Mel. Wilson 3, Jewell 4.
Harlan County (43) — Stittums 11, Lee 9, Massingill 8, Cornett 2, Evans 11, Mimes 2.