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HHS pulls away late in rout of Whitley

Only a win away from doubling their total from a year ago, the Harlan Green Dragons continue to demonstrate how much they’ve grown up. Their fourth-quarter performance Tuesday in a convincing 58-36 win over visiting Whitley County drove that point home in impressive fashion.

Up by only five going into the final period, Harlan scored on its first four possessions while holding Whitley without a point in building a 14-point advantage. Harlan hit six of seven shots in the period and outrebounded the Colonels 9-0 on the way to outscoring them 21-4.

“I thought we played pretty good defense. They hit some 3s early, but we did a good job of getting out on them after that,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said. “You have to feel pretty good about holding them to 36 points.”

Freshman point guard Jordan Akal overcame a slow start to finish with 20 points to lead the 11-6 Dragons, who have won seven or eight. Kilian Ledford added 15 points. Jared Hawkins contributed 10 while sparking Harlan’s late surge with two baskets to start the fourth quarter.

“We played one of our better half on both ends of the floor,” Akal said. “Jared is making shots and is playing with confidence. We need him to do that, and all our seniors, for us to be an effective team. He played well on both ends of the floor.”

Dakota Lawson and Devin Bowling, both seniors, led the 10-8 Colonels with nine points each.

A three-point play by Ledford and 3-pointer by Hawkins gave Harlan an early 6-2 lead. Whitley answered to briefly go up by one as Bowling hit a 3-pointer and Tyler Lawson scored on a drive. Baskets by Ledford and Jon Eldridge gave the Dragons a 10-7 lead after one period.

Harlan found the range from behind the 3-point line in the second quarter as Ledford hit a pair from behind the line early in the period and Akal added late for an eight-point lead. Hunter Hollingsworth’s driving shot to close the half cut the deficit to 26-20 at halftime.

The Dragons hit six of nine shots from the field in the second quarter. Whitley showed tremendous patience against Harlan’s 2-3 zone but often couldn’t convert on open shots, hitting eight of 23 attempts in the half.

Whitley got as close as three early in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Bowling. A 3-pointer by Dakota Lawson pulled Whitley within four late in the period before a 3-pointer by Kaleb McLendon helped Harlan take a 37-32 lead into the fourth quarter.

Harlan returns to action Saturday at Pineville in the 13th Region All “A” Classic, taking on Barbourville at 3 p.m.

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Garrett McNeeley hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the closing minutes as Whitley County rallied for a 41-36 win in junior varsity action.

McNeeley, a freshman guard, led the Colonels with 15 points. Gray Estes and Trevor Downs scored seven each. Byron Lawson added five and was followed by Tanner Gilbert with three and Peyton Anderson and Bobby Downs with two each.

Freshman guard Kaleb McLendon scored 12 to lead the Dragons. Jaedyn Gist added eight and was followed by Charles David Morton with seven, Carl Pacholewski with five and Johann Gist with four.

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Harlan 58, Whitley County 36

WHITLEY COUNTY (10-8)

Hunter Hollingsworth 4-9 0-0 8, Dakota Lawson 4-9 0-0 9, Devin Bowling 3-13 0-0 9, Jack Estes 0-3 0-0 0, Tyler Lawson 3-8 0-0 6, Garrett McNeeley 1-3 0-0 3, Trevor Downs 0-1 1-2 1, Trae Potter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-46 1-2 36.

HARLAN (11-6)

Jordan Akal 6-13 4-4 20, Cade Barnes 1-2 0-0 2, Jared Hawkins 4-7 0-0 10, Kilian Ledford 5-13 3-4 15, Jon Eldridge 2-4 2-2 6, Kaleb McLendon 1-2 0-0 3, Jaeden Gist 0-0 0-0 0, Carter Barnes 0-0 0-0 0, Caleb Adkins 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 20-42 9-10 58.

Whitley County 7 13 12 4 — 36

Harlan 10 16 11 21 — 58

3-point goals: Whitley County 5-19 (Bowling 3-12, D. Lawson 2-4, McNeeley 1-1, Hollingsworth 0-1, J. Estes 0-1), Harlan 9-20 (Akal 4-5, Hawkins 2-5, Ledford 2-9, McLendon 1-1). Rebounds: Whitley County 17 (Hollingsworth 5, D. Lawson 3, T. Lawson 3, Bowling 2, McNeeley 2, Downs 2), Harlan 30 (Eldridge 10, Ledford 8, Hawkins 7, Akal 3, Cade Barnes 2). Turnovers: Whitley County 7, Harlan 10. Fouled out: Whitley County (D. Lawson).