Blair Green is learning to adjust her game in the middle of her senior year of high school.
It wasn’t by choice: Harlan County senior Kaylea Gross suffered a season-ending ACL injury in early December. Now Green, who has signed with the University of Kentucky, is attracting even more attention from defenses than she was before the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder was sidelined.
The Black Bears, ranked 11th in the Herald-Leader’s preseason poll, fell to 10-2 after a 65-46 loss to Elizabethtown, the first top-10 team they’ve played this season, in the Lady Flyer Showcase at Franklin County over the weekend. Harlan County is seeking its first Sweet Sixteen berth and was the preseason favorite to come out of the 13th Region, but. …
“We’re still learning to play without our big girl inside,” Green said. “When we drive we’re always used to kicking it to her and we don’t have as big of a girl inside now, so we’ve got to look at taking a shot instead of dumping it down. I’m just gonna have to learn to take that shot in the middle, ’cause it’s open. I was open in the middle every time (today).”
Green is averaging 26.4 points and 8.2 rebounds, numbers that are likely to creep upward as the Black Bears progress toward the postseason come February. Mercer County senior Seygan Robins, a University of Louisville signee who was named Sweet Sixteen MVP in 2017, was the preseason favorite for Miss Basketball and has had a continued high level of team success behind her candidacy as a senior.
Many onlookers believe if anyone has a chance of pushing through and making a race of it, Green is the girl thanks to her big-time averages and Big Blue backing. The two played for the same AAU team, Kentucky Premiere, and Green isn’t too worried about who ends up with the trophy.
“Whichever one of us gets it, it’s just gonna be great,” Green said.
Green’s more amped about helping Harlan County secure its first 13th Region championship and joining the Wildcats after high school. She remained optimistic about UK’s outlook despite the team being in the midst of a seven-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against Georgia (that streak grew to eight games after UK’s 56-42 loss at home to the Bulldogs).
“I believe in ’em and I think next year we’re gonna be fine,” said Green, the only Kentuckian who’s signed with the Wildcats in the class of 2018. “We have a lot of freshmen this year, and it’s tough. Dorie (Harrison) and everyone, they’re gonna come back better than ever.”
Asked if a potential change in UK’s coaching staff would prompt her to seek a release from her letter of intent, Green said:
“I doubt it. Kentucky’s my home. I bleed blue.”