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Akal leads Dragons to first-round win in All ‘A’

PINEVILLE — Harlan freshman Jordan Akal, already a two-year starter at point guard, could eventually be the 13th Region’s best player. He may already me the most valuable player in the region for his team.

With Akal out earlier this season, Harlan lost 67-45 at Barbourville. Akal was back for the rematch Saturday afternoon in the first round of the 13th Region All “A” Classic and scored 18 points, including the game-winning basket with 22 seconds left, as Harlan won 42-40.

“We didn’t shoot real well today, but Jordan did do a nice job of creating some shots for his teammates,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said.

Harlan led 38-31 with 6:45 left in the fourth quarter when Barbourville reeled off nine unanswered points, sparked by three baskets from senior center Connor Bain, to go up 40-38 with 2:07 left.

“Connor did a nice job for us tonight, especially late in the game,” Barbourville coach Cody Messer said. “We ask him to do a lot of things that most teams don’t ask of their post players.”

Two free throws by Akal tied the game, then Harlan got the ball back after a deflection by Akal. The Harlan coach called a timeout with 26.7 seconds left and set up a play that worked to perfection. Jon Eldridge took the inbounds pass and found Akal back door for the go-ahead basket.

“I told Jon if they overplay Jordan that he should take one dribble toward them and get it to Jordan when he goes back door,” Akal said. “We did that earlier in the season against Middlesboro. It wasn’t our first option, but we knew it might be there since people try to keep the ball away from Jordan.”

Barbourville’s Matthew Gray got a good look for a go-ahead 3-pointer that bounced off the him. Barbourville deflected the inbounds pass in the closing seconds, but Akal came up with the loose ball just before time expired.

“I thought Harlan executed better than we did,” Messer said. “We lost Dylan Bingham, our sixth man, to an injury earlier in the week against Lynn Camp, and I thought that really hurt us. We don’t have a lot of depth anyway. I’m still really proud of this team though. They have already beat several teams most didn’t give them a chance to beat.”

Senior forward Jacob Helotn led the 11-5 Tigers with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Cade Barnes added 11 points for the Dragons, who improved to 12-6.

Barbourville missed its first seven shots as Harlan took a 6-1 lead on 3-pointers by Kilian Ledford and Akal. Helton ignited a Barbourville comeback with six rebounds in the first quarter, leading to three baskets. A J.D. McVey 3-pointer tied the game at 8, but Barnes had two baskets late in the quarter as Harlan took a 14-10 lead.

Helton scored the first five points of the second quarter to give Barbourville a lead before Ledford and Akal again hit back-to-back treys. Barbourville pulled even at 22 on two free throws by Helton, but Harlan executed on its final play of the half as Akal worked inside and found Barnes for a 3-pointer that put the Dragons up 25-22 at the break.

Hawkins had two of Harlan’s three baskets in the third quarter as the lead grew to 34-29 going into the final period.

Harlan will play Williamsburg on Monday at 7:30 p.m. Williamsburg advanced with a win over Oneida Baptist in the final first-round game. Middlesboro will play Lynn Camp in the first semifinal at 6 p.m.

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Harlan 42, Barbourville 40

HARLAN (12-4)

Jordan Akal 6-16 4-4 18, Cade Barnes 5-8 0-0 11, Jared Hawkins 3-10 0-0 7, Kilian Ledford 2-8 0-0 6, Jon Eldridge 0-2 0-0 0, Carter Barnes 0-4 0-0 0, Jaeden Gist 0-0 0-0 0, Kaleb McLendon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-49 4-4 42.

BARBOURVILLE (11-7)

J.D. McVey 2-7 0-0 6, Matthew Gray 0-5 0-0 0, Shawn Vaughn 1-9 0-0 2, Jacob Helton 6-12 7-11 19, Dakota Tye 1-1 0-0 2, Jordan Collins 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 15-41 7-11 40.

Harlan 14 11 9 8 — 42

Barbourville 10 12 7 11 — 40

3-point goals: Harlan 6-26 (Akal 2-8, Ledford 2-8, Cade Barnes 1-2, Hawkins 1-7, McLendon 0-1), Barbourville 3-15 (McVey 2-7, Collins 1-1, Vaughn 0-1, Helton 0-1, Gray 0-5). Rebounds: Harlan 27 (Cade Barnes 8, Akal 7, Eldridge 7, Ledford 4, Hawkins 3), Barbourville 25 (Helton 12, Bain 5, Vaughn 4, Gray 3, McVey 1). Turnovers: Harlan 6, Barbourville 7. Fouled out: None.

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Williamsburg 81, Oneida Baptist 66

Junior guards Caleb Rose and Slaht Hunter teamed for 47 points, with Rose scoring 25 and Hunter adding 22, as Williamsburg advanced to the semifinals with a win over Oneida Baptist.

Williamsburg led by only one before outscoring OBI 20-9 in the second quarter to take control. Hunter Brown, a senior center who finished with 18 points, scored eight in the second period.

Elijah Woods, a junior guard, poured in 30 points for the Mountaineers. Wayne Estep and Sochi Onuaha added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

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Williamsburg (81) — Dalton Ponder 10, Caleb Rose 25, Slaht Hunter 22, Devonte Powell 4, Hunter Brown 18, Larry Bray 2.

Oneida Baptist (66) — Elijah Woods 30, Tyler Preston 7, Wayne Estep 13, Sochi Onuaha 12, Clay Hambry 2, Ikenna Onuaha 2.

Williamsburg 17 20 25 19 — 81

Oneida Baptist 16 9 25 16 — 66

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Middlesboro 86, Red Bird 55

Five Yellow Jackets placed in double figures as Middlesboro advanced to the semifinals with a rout of Red Bird in the opening game of the day.

Senior guard Josh Overbay led Middlesboro with 15 points, including four 3-pointers in the third quarter as the Jackets blew the game open by outscoring the Cardinals 29-20 after leading by 16 at halftime. Mykel Griffin, a senior center, added 14 points. Junior guard Trey Brock scored 13. Christian Hubbard and Jabari Kyle added 10 each.

Dalton Finley, a junior guard, led Red Bird with 22 points. Daegon Finley and Max Kitoko added 10 points each.

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Middlesboro (86) — Christian Hubbard 10, Trey Brock 13, Jabari Kyle 10, Scott Overbay 9, Mykel Griffin 14, Josh Overbay 15, Jordan Davis 5, T.J. Patterson 1, Steven Poore 2, Caleb Bagonko 4, Ethan Barton 1, Jay West 2.

Red Bird (55) — David Collett 3, Dalton Finley 22, Daegon Finley 10, Max Kitoko 10, Austin Napier 5, Jagger Wilson 3, Bryce Helton 1, Bryan Mama 1.

Middlesboro 16 20 29 21 — 86

Red Bird 13 7 20 15 — 55

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Lynn Camp 69, Pineville 51

Led by junior guard Max Burd with 23 points and senior guard Marcus Hollin with 19, Lynn Camp overcame a slow start offensive to defeat the host Mountain Lions.

Lynn Camp struggled to a 7-3 lead after one quarter before Burd and Hollin teamed for all 21 points n the second period as the Wildcats built a 28-15 halftime lead.

Matt Disney and Maison Prater added 10 points each for the Wildcats.

Keean Fuxon paced the Lions with 16 points.

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Lynn Camp (69) — Max Burd 23, Maison Prater 10, Jacob Balew 2, Marcus Hollin 19, Matt Disney 10, Joey Kirby 2, Luke Ledington 3.

Pineville (51) — Clay Goodin 9, Hayden Callebs 2, Matt Golden 2, Dalton Mason 3, Keean Fuson 16, Ben Goodin 6, Cameron Fuson 2, Austin Fuson 2, Eli Thompson 3, Tim Gambrel 6.

Lynn Camp 7 21 23 18 — 69

Pineville 3 12 14 22 — 51