Clark County crushed Harlan on the boards and at the free-throw line to claim a 81-63 victory to close out the first day of the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Girls’ Sweet Sixteen Wednesday night at BB&T Arena.
The Cardinals outrebounded the Dragons 35-20 and were 29 of 34 from the charity stripe compared to a 4-for-4 mark for Harlan. Shemaya Behanan led the way, going 9-for-10 from the line and 8-for-12 from the field to finish with 25 points for the Cardinals.
Box score: Clark County 81, Harlan 63
Three other players — Maleaha Bell, Jasmine Flowers and Hayley Harrison — ended with 16 points for Clark County, which benefitted from the same balanced assault it had leading up to the state tournament. Kenendy Igo — who finished with seven points — leads the Cardinals in scoring on the season (12.7 ppg). Behanan averages 10.9 points while Bell, Flowers, Harrison and Elizabeth Hardiman are right on the cusp of double-digit scoring averages.
“About all year there’s not been one dominant scorer,” Clark County Coach Robbie Graham said. “It’s kind of pick your poison.”
Harlan senior Jordan Brock, a Miss Basketball candidate, had a game-high 38 points, tied for the sixth most by a player in the girls’ tournament. called Brock’s performance one of the best he’s ever coached against.
“She hit some incredible shots and was very tough to guard cause she’s so relaxed and has so much freedom to take shots as part of their offense,” Graham said. “We wanted to limit her. … We felt like our team against her was a good situation for us.”
Harlan led 20-13 after the first quarter. With 7:17 left in the second quarter, Brock exited the contest after hurting her knee on a charge under the basket. She re-entered about a minute later with Clark County in the initial stages of what ended as a 12-0 run to begin the period. Brock, who had 12 points in the first quarter, missed her first three shots after the injury and took 17 points into the break.
Brock finished 6-for-16 from the three-point line, tying Maci Brown (Henderson County) and Laura Terry (Rose Hill Christian) for the third-most in a state tournament game.
“I told you all I’d be back,” Brock said, referencing a statement made after Harlan’s first-round loss to Owensboro Catholic last year. “I just wanna thank my teammates for everything and coming out here and staying in the fight. I don’t think we ever gave up one time.”
Harlan Coach Derrick Akal was not pleased with the free-throw discrepancy. The Dragons’ shot attempts were nine off their season average (13) while Clark County attempted nearly 20 more than their per-game total (15).
He laughed when asked if he thought the gap had to do with Harlan’s offensive style; the Dragons tried 24 shots from three (making 11) while Clark County went 4-for-11 from long distance.
“No,” Akal said. “I won’t elaborate on that, but no.”
Clark County will face Mercer County in the quarterfinals on Friday. The Titans reached the state semifinals a year ago.
“They made a deep run last year and brought all those girls back and got several Division One players,” Graham said. “ … We gotta be who were are. We’re gonna play the way we play and they’re gonna play the way they play. … Hopefully it’ll be a good game.”