Harlan has played in seven of the last eight girls’ All “A” Classic state tournaments and 11 overall. For the first time, one game stands between it and the program’s first state championship.
The Dragons overpowered Leslie County, 71-49, in a battle between mountain schools in the semifinals Saturday afternoon at the Frankfort Convention Center. On Sunday they’ll attempt to win the school’s first state championship since a shared Class A girls’ track and field team title in 1972. It would be Harlan’s first basketball title since the boys won state in 1944 (the KHSAA does not officially recognize All “A” Classic championships).
Jordan Brock, a Tennessee Tech signee, finished with 32 points on 8-for-16 shooting (4-for-7 from three) for Harlan. Teammate Mackenzie King had 27 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. The pair combined to go 21-for-25 at the free-throw line; Leslie County was 17 of 21 as a team.
“I have one thing to say about Mackenzie King,” Brock said. “She is awesome. She’s my girl.”
Harlan trailed 15-7 after the first quarter but buried the Eagles with a 24-3 response in the next period. The Dragons took their first lead, 16-15, on a Brock three-pointer with 5:35 left in the second quarter and never looked back.
“At one point we were down eight or 10 points but I don’t think we ever panicked,” Harlan Coach Derrick Akal said. “These girls hold each other accountable. They were fussing because they want things to be done right, but I don’t think we panicked.”
Monroe County 56, Trimble County 43: Reagan Turner had 16 points, five assists and four steals for the Falcons, who advanced to their fourth girls’ All “A” state championship game and first since 2011.
Ashlee McGeorge, who will play for Campbellsville University next winter, had 11 points, eight rebounds and two steals for Monroe County, which upset tournament favorite Murray in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Falcons Coach Dwayne Murray cautioned his team against a letdown coming off of that big win. Trimble County led 11-10 after the first quarter but Monroe kicked its defense up a notch and used an 18-3 second quarter to take control.
“The first quarter we didn’t do a very good job, when we were one pass away, getting up and denying that person,” Murray said. “We were laying back and watching. … We really did a great job the second quarter.”
McGeorge has suffered from hypermobility in her sacroiliac joint for the last few years; her hip doesn’t move, but the joint to which it connects moves beyond its normal expected range. That can cause her hip to become dislocated, as it did during Wednesday and Friday’s games.
“So when that comes out and moves, it causes a lot of pain,” McGeorge said. “It’s indescribable. … I just wear a brace and deal with it.”
McGeorge sees a physical therapist and also does yoga to help prevent and alleviate pain. She’s usually able to have her physical therapist or dad relocate her hip after it’s displaced during a game and can quickly return to the court. She can’t remember how many times she’s had to put it back during a contest.
“It gets me down a little bit, but with the team I have, they know how to pick me up and get my back,” McGeorge said. “I’m just here to win.”
It will be just the second time in the last 12 years that two public schools will meet in the girls’ finals. Monroe County was the second-highest rated team in the Cantrall Ratings coming into the event. By that metric, the Falcons will be a sizable favorite over Harlan, which was 11th of the 16 qualifiers.
Finals: Monroe County (22-2) vs. Harlan (19-5)