By John Stepp For The Times Tribune
WHITLEY COUNTY — The Whitley County Lady Colonels found themselves down by four points heading into the fourth quarter against 13th Region foe Harlan County. But, that's when the Lady Colonels decided they were ready to play.
Whitley County outscored the Lady Black Bears 18-9 in the final quarter, holding Harlan County to just three field goals, and taking the win, 51-46.
“Harlan County is a good team,” Whitley County coach Donnie Jones said. “I'm not sure where they are ranked in the region, but they will be there at the end.
“They are well coached,” he added. “This was a good test for us and we were glad to get the win.”
The Lady Colonels were able to hold on to the win due in large part from big games from Brandi Smith and Kandace Craig. Smith led all Whitley County scorers with 17 points, followed by Craig with 13.
“They've carried us all year,” said Jones. “They are both good players and we are able to count on them.”
The Lady Black Bears wasted no time taking control of the game, jumping out to an 18-8 lead after the first quarter. Whitley County couldn’t find an answer to Harlan County's Bella Noe, who scored eight points in the opening quarter and finished the game with 19 points to lead all scorers.
Whitley County found a way to battle back in the second quarter. The Lady Colonels defense was able to hold their opponent to just two baskets in the quarter, while outscoring them 13-7. Despite the defensive effort, Whitley County still trailed 25-21, heading into halftime.
“We didn't shoot the ball well early on and it hurt us,” said Jones. “We finally hit some shots there at the end, but our defense really helped us out.”
Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter. The Black Bears looked to be in control early, scoring two quick baskets to open the period, but Whitley County was able to close the gap late in the quarter, cutting the lead to 37-33 heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter was when the Lady Colonels took over the game, with intense defense and solid free throw shooting. Whitley County knocked down 12-of-13 from the charity stripe.
Whitley County 51, Harlan County 46
Whitley Co. 8 13 12 18 – 51
Harlan Co. 18 7 12 9 – 46
Whitley County (51) – Smith 17, Craig 13, Dingess 7, Johnson 6, Estes 5, Johnson 3
Harlan County (46) – Noe 19, Massingill 13, Branson 4, Kaitlyn Stittums 4, Shannon Shackleford 4, Kaylea Gross 2