By John Henson for the Times-Tribune
HARLAN COUNTY — With their Harlan County Lady Bears trailing by five points early in the fourth quarter, guards Brooklyn Massingill and Kaitlyn Stittums each did what they do best. Massingill supplied the offense with three three-pointers and Stittums supplied the hustle, forcing two turnovers and coming up with a loose ball and a basket with the game tied, as Harlan County rallied for a 66-63 win over visiting South Laurel.
South Laurel led 51-46 before Massingill hit back-to-back treys to put the Lady Bears up by one. South Laurel went back up by one on a basket by senior center Taylor Arthur, who led the Lady Cards with 19 points, but Massingill nailed another three off a Stittums steal to give Harlan County a 57-56 advantage with 3:04 left.
Arthur put South Laurel ahead twice more, but Harlan County answered each time, first with a basket from Lauren Lee and then when Stittums came up with the play of the game, scooping up a loose ball after her missed free throw and scoring to put the Lady Bears up 62-60 with 44.9 seconds remaining.
"We did some good things, but when you are ahead in the second half, especially late, you have to win those kinds of games," South Laurel coach Konnie Snyder said. "I thought we lost at the end by not getting loose balls and not getting rebounds. The rebound on the free throw killed us. You can't do those things if you want to win against quality opponents, and Harlan County certainly is a quality opponent."
Two more free throws by Stittums stretched the lead to four before Maydson Morris banked in a three-pointer for a one-point deficit with 3.5 seconds remaining. Two free throws by Massingill with 1.5 seconds left made it a three-point game. After a timeout, Bella Noe stole a long pass to preserve the victory.
"I thought Harlan County played very well and is very deserving of the win, but that doesn't mean we wanted it any less," Snyder said. "A couple of bounces made the differences. Maybe we can hit some more free throws and get some rebounds the next time."
Massingill, a freshman guard, finished with 28 points to lead the 2-0 Lady Bears. Stittums, a junior, added 11 points. Junior center Shannon Shackleford came off the bench to contribute nine points.