With her team up two points with 42.7 seconds left, Monroe County’s Ashley Gearlds came up on the weakside of Harlan star Jordan Brock, forced the ball loose and put enough strength behind it to get it to teammate Reagan Turner, whose layup on the other end gave the Falcons a 57-53 lead with 29 seconds to play.
That turned out to be critical, as Harlan missed a shot when it came back down the floor and Monroe hit its free throws at the end to put away the Dragons 61-55 on Sunday afternoon in the finals of the girls’ All “A” Classic at the Frankfort Convention Center.
Turner was named MVP of the tournament after scoring 29 points. She was 11-for-13 from the free-throw line, all 11 makes coming in the final quarter.
“Coach Murray told me to help on her, so I was kind of following her around and I saw the opportunity that she was leaving her outside hand open,” Gearlds said of her pivotal strip. “So I went for it, I had it and I threw it to Reagan for the open shot.”
Harlan led 28-27 at halftime. At that point Brock had 21 of her team’s points, including all 14 in the second quarter. She was 8-for-19 from beyond the three-point arc, setting a single-game record for three-pointers in the girls’ tournament, and finished with a game-high 39 points.
In four tournament games, Brock scored 125 points. The next closest, Turner, had 75.
“The Brock kid, she’s a great player but they didn’t use any of their other players and we used all five of ours today,” Monroe County Coach Dwayne Murray said. “She’s tough but we prevailed through our defense and rebounding.”
Monroe County outrebounded Harlan 34-18. Ashlee McGeorge had 12 of those for the Falcons to go along with 12 points. The Falcons finished with a 12-3 edge on the offensive boards.
It was Monroe County’s third All “A” title in four finals trips but its first since 2006. The Falcons, tied for 13th in the Cantrall Ratings, have only lost twice this season — to 5th Region favorite Elizabethtown and Bowling Green, the defending champion in the 4th Region.
Harlan Coach Derrick Akal said he’d never been more proud of a group of players in his 15 years on the sidelines.
“It says a lot about eastern Kentucky basketball,” Akal said. “In my opinion, we can compete with anybody in the state.”