By Les Dixon
HARLAN COUNTY — Jennifer Parsons’ Corbin Lady Redhounds continue to amaze.
After losing to Bell County twice earlier in the season by 20 and 33 points, there weren’t many people giving Corbin a shot at beating the Lady Bobcats during Monday’s 13th Region Girls Tournament championship game.
The Lady Redhounds (27-8) proved the skeptics wrong by turning in one of their best performances of the season, surprising Bell County with a 63-60 win.
After falling behind 5-3 early in the first quarter, a three-pointer by Sarah Ashley at the 5:30 mark gave Corbin a lead it would never relinquish.
But Parsons’ squad had to withstand a furious comeback attempt in the fourth quarter to capture its first 13th Region championship in 30 years.
“I thought we could win this, but I think a lot of people didn’t,” Parsons said. “I didn’t just think, but these girls did, too. These girls knew what we were capable of and I think it was to our advantage being underrated.
“The growth and maturity I have seen, was the difference down the stretch for us,” she added. “We’ve been able to maintain our poise and our composure.”
The Lady Redhounds led 57-46 with 2:06 remaining after four straight free throws by Kayla Wilson before seeing Bell County (27-6) rally.
Two free throws by Maci Morris ignited a 14-4 run during the game’s final two minutes, as Morris’ basket with :19 remaining cut the Lady Bobcats’ deficit to 61-60.
Kayla Wilson was sent to the line with :10 left and hit two crucial free throws to give her team a 63-60 edge and Morris’ three-point attempt was off target, allowing the Lady Redhounds to capture their first 13th Region championship since 1982.
“This is huge for the program,” Parsons said. “We’ve not been since 1982 and I’ve been here 12 years and as a player and a coach, this is what you work for.
“We’ve had great work ethic from our girls, coaching staff and support staff,” she added. “Bottom line, we don’t care who gets it done, as long as Corbin gets it done.”
Kayla Wilson came up big for Corbin in the second half. The 13th Region Tournament MVP scored 18 of her team-best 21 points during the game’s final 16 minutes, including 11 coming in the fourth quarter. She also hit six-of-six shot attempts from the free-throw line during the period.
“She hit some key free throws and hit a key three-pointer,” Parsons said. “I can’t say enough about each one of these players. I couldn’t pick an MVP of this team. They all contributed and played well.”
Morris finished with a game-high 27 points, but was limited to only five in the first half, as Corbin’s Brooklyn Ashurst and Jaclyn Jewell each turned in solid defensive efforts on the Lady Bobcat sophomore, who was in foul trouble from the end of the first quarter on.
“Brooklyn did a great job on Maci,” Parsons said. “We knew she would get her points, but Brooklyn did great on her. Sarah Ashley was tenacious out there.
“Holli (Disney) made some big free throws,” she added. “And we had Kayla and Miranda doing a great job handling the ball for us and scoring. They made some big shots for us. Someone has always stepped up for us. You can’t key in on one.”
After falling behind 5-2 against Bell County, Corbin caught fire by going on an 18-7 run during the final five minutes of the first quarter to take a 20-12 advantage.
Ashley hit a three-pointer during the run, while Miranda Wilson also added a three-pointer, too.
The Lady Redhounds took advantage of the Lady Bobcats’ two-of-13 shooting effort in the second quarter and extended their lead to 29-19 at halftime, as a three-pointer by Kayla Wilson highlighted the quarter. Bell County’s Morris also picked up her third foul with :52 remaining in the first half.
Corbin connected on 10-of-22 shot attempts during the first two quarters, including three-of-six from three-point range while Bell County struggled from the floor with a seven-of-23 effort.
Three-pointers by Ashurst and Kayla Wilson pushed the Lady Redhounds’ lead to 37-25 with 5:00 remaining in the third quarter, but Morris got hot and scored eight points in the quarter and helped cut Corbin’s lead to 43-36 with eight minutes remaining. She also picked up her fourth foul with :46 left in the period.
It looked as if the Lady Redhounds were going to pull away in the fourth quarter after six straight points by Kayla Wilson made the score 57-46 with 2:06 remaining in the game, but Bell County began to force some turnovers and Morris and company took advantage. The Bell County sophomore scored eight points during the stretch while three-pointers by Jessica Sanders and Katrina Johnson pulled the Lady Bobcats to within one point (61-60) with :10 left.
But two free throws by Kayla Wilson and a missed three-point attempt by Morris allowed Corbin to pull off the win.
The Lady Redhounds finished the game hitting on 19-of-41 shot attempts, including a six-of-12 effort from three-point range. Bell County shot 20-of-55 from the floor, including a five-of-20 effort from three-point range.
13th Region Girls Tournament at Harlan County High School
Corbin 63, Bell County 60
Corbin 20 9 14 20 63
Bell County 12 7 17 24 60
Corbin (63) — Ashurst 5, Mi. Wilson 16, Disney 4, Ashley 15, K. Wilson 21, Fothergill 2.
Bell County (60) — Robbins 1, Sanders 3, Morris 27, Smith 12, Garnett 13, Johnson 4.