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Green Dragons’ rally falls short

In his days as an assistant coach at Cumberland High School, Derrick Akal learned a thing or two about coaching scrappy teams that overcame a lack of talent with outsized heart. It’s looking like those experiences might come in handy with this year’s Harlan squad.

The Green Dragons were ice-cold through three quarters before mounting a furious fourth-quarter rally that came up just short in a 65-61 loss to visiting Bell County in the nightcap of a girls-boys district doubleheader Friday.

“We showed a lot of heart,” Akal said. “We don’t have a guy who’s going to come out there and give us 25 or 30 every night. We need six or seven or 10 guys who are going to come out and play their hearts out. There were spurts tonight when we proved to ourselves we were capable of doing that.”

Harlan (0-4 overall, 0-2 district) shot 23 percent (8-for-35) in the first three periods and trailed 43-29 going into the fourth quarter.

“We’ve not shot the ball well the last few games,” Akal said. “I was happy with the fight. We dug in better defensively, and that’s where we have to get better. Defense will bail our offense out.”

Senior Austin Adams scored a pair of baskets, including a 3-pointer, in the first minute of the final quarter to ignite the comeback.

The Bobcats continued to score as the clock began to work against the Dragons. Jacob Wilson converted a three-point play at the 4:18 mark to pull Harlan within 10, but Bell responded with back-to-back baskets by Ryan Lambdin and Sawyer Brock.

Harlan answered with a 9-0 run that started with a 3-pointer by Kilian Ledford and ended with another by Cade Barnes to cut the deficit to five. Barnes added another 3 with 53 seconds remaining to pull the Dragons within four.

Bell added four free throws by Brock that proved to be crucial when Ledford hit his third trey of the game with 2.9 seconds to play. Following a Harlan timeout, Bell inbounded the ball to Braydon Temple, who was able to run out the clock.

Wilson, a sophomore, paced the Dragons with 18 points. Adams came off the bench to add 12, and Ledford scored 10 along with a team-high nine rebounds.

“We’ve got 10 or 11 guys who can contribute,” Akal said. “Austin sat the whole first half, but he didn’t sulk; he got out there and played hard. The same is true for (Jared) Hawkins. We’ve just got to find the right combinations.”

Bell County (2-2, 1-1) was led by junior guard Sawyer Brock, who scored 26 points on 9-for-11 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. Lambdin and Tyler Partin added 15 and 10 points, respectively.

The E.R. “Doc” Gray Classic, initially scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed until Dec. 18. The Dragons return to action Friday at Harlan County in another district matchup.

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Bell County 65, Harlan 61

BELL COUNTY (2-2)

Sawyer Brock 9-11 6-6 26, Colby Frazier 3-11 2-6 8, Ryan Lambdin 6-12 1-2 15, Tyler Partin 3-6 4-6 10, Kyle Burnett 1-4 0-4 2, Dawson Atkins 1-2 0-0 2, Isaac Collett 1-5 0-0 2, Braydon Temple 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 24-52 13-25 65.

HARLAN (0-4)

Jordan Akal 1-9 0-0 3, Cade Barnes 3-8 0-0 8, Jacob Wilson 4-9 8-9 18, Kilian Ledford 3-11 1-3 10, John Eldridge 1-4 2-2 4, Jared Hawkins 1-7 2-3 5, Tyler Carmical 0-1 0-0 0, Carter Barnes 0-0 1-2 1, Caleb Adkins 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Adams 4-9 3-4 12, Tate Bryson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-58 17-23 61.

Bell County 10 19 14 22 — 65

Harlan 13 7 9 32 — 61

3-point goals: Bell County 4-14 (Brock 2-2, Lambdin 2-5, Temple 0-1, Frazier 0-2, Collett 0-4), Harlan 10-39 (Ledford 3-9, Cad.Barnes 2-6, Wilson 2-6, Adams 1-4, Hawkins 1-5, Akal 1-6, Carmical 0-1, Eldridge 0-2). Rebounds: Bell County 44 (Brock 9), Harlan 29 (Ledford 9). Turnovers: Bell County 12, Harlan 8. Fouled out: Bell County (Partin, Atkins), Harlan (Hawkins). Technical fouls: Bell County (Partin).