Akal carries Dragons past Barbourville in All ‘A’

Published 1:40 pm Sunday, January 12, 2020

WILLIAMSBURG — An ankle injury that sidelined Jordan Akal for six games meant the Harlan Green Dragons couldn’t get off to the start they hoped for in losing six of their first seven.

The Dragons are 4-1 since Akal returned, including their best performance of the season on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the 13th Region All “A” Classic. Akal poured in 33 points as Harlan avenged a season-opening loss at Barbourville with a 71-65 victory over the Tigers to earn a spot in Monday’s semifinals.

“I was proud of my guys,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said. “They beat us earlier in the season, but I think both teams have improved.”

The Dragons won 36-22 on the boards, a key statistic in the game. Jaedyn Gist followed an 18-rebound effort earlier in the week against Pineville with 14 rebounds against Williamsburg. Jon Eldridge added 12 rebounds

“Our guys hit the boards hard, and I thought that was a big difference today,” Akal said.

Shawn Vaughn and Jordan Collins each scored 15 to lead the 7-7 Tigers. Matthew Gray added 11 points.

After four ties late in the first quarter, Harlan went up 18-15 when Akal hit three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt with 1.1 seconds left. Akal had 11 points in the quarter.

Barbourville took a 25-23 lead with 3:45 left when Collins hit a 3-pointer. Akal took over from there with 10 points in a 12-2 run over the final 2:30 of the half, including two 3-pointers and a dunk after slicing down the lane through the Barbourville defense, to put Harlan ahead 35-27 at the break

“He’s capable of going on 10–0 or 12-0 runs by himself, but we just need him to be more consistent,” Akal said of his point guard.

Harlan’s lead grew to nine late in the third quarter as Jon Eldridge and Jaedyn Gist had two baskets each. The Dragons’ defense took the rest of the period off as Collins and Colby Martin each drove to the basket for layups to cut the deficit to 51-49 going into the final.

“We were letting them drive by us for layups late in the third quarter, but I thought we did a lot better job with that the last three or four minutes,” Akal said.

The lead changed hands three times in the fourth quarter and Barbourville had a chance to take the lead again with two minutes left when Matt Warren missed a layup with the Tigers down by one. Free throws by Akal and Eldridge put the Dragons up by six, but Harlan missed four of its last six at the line in the 25 seconds. Fortunately for the Dragons, Barbourville was unable to convert on the offensive end after the misses.

“Several of our guys haven’t played a lot of tournament basketball, so they have to work through that experience in big-game situations,” Akal said.

Akal was pleased with the Dragons’ defensive effort overall, which focused on Vaughn and Gray, the Tigers’ two most experienced players.

“We just wanted to make sure Vaughn and Gray didn’t have 20 and 30,” Akal said. “We wanted to make some of the other guys carry the load.”

Harlan will play Williamsburg at 6 p.m. on Monday in the opening semifinal. Red Bird will take on Middlesboro in the second game. The championship game is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m.


Harlan 71, Barbourville 65


Jordan Collins 6-10 3-4 15, Dylan Moore 1-5 0-0 2, Shawn Vaughn 6-13 2-2 15, Colby Martin 3-6 3-4 9, Jonathan Mills 0-2 0-0 0, Matthew Gray 3-5 5-8 11, Michael Smith 4-6 0-0 8, Dylan Bingham 2-4 0-0 5, David Collett 1-3 0-0 2, Matthew Warren 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 25-53 13-18 65.

HARLAN (5-7)

Jordan Akal 8-17 14-19 33, Kaleb McLendon 3-7 3-4 11, Jaedyn Gist 5-9 0-6 10, Johann Gist 2-5 0-0 5, Jon Eldridge 3-8 5-6 12, Charles David Morton 0-1 0-0 0, Jayden Ward 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-48 22-35 71.

Barbourville 15 12 22 16 — 65

Harlan 18 17 16 20 — 71

3-point goals: Barbourville 2-8 (Vaughn 1-2, Bingham 1-2, Collins 0-1, Moore 0-1, Mills 0-1, Warren 0-1), Harlan 7-21 (Akal 3-7, McLendon 2-5, Johann Gist 1-4, Eldridge 1-4, Morton 0-1). Rebounds: Barbourville 22 (Vaughn 6, Smith 5, Collins 3, Moore 3, Martin 2, Mills 2, Gray 1), Harlan 36 (Jaedyn Gist 14, Eldridge 12, Akal 4, Kaleb McLendon 4, Johann Gist 2). Turnovers: Barbourville 8, Harlan County 17. Fouled out: Barbourville (Gray).


Williamsburg 88, Oneida Baptist 78

The host Jackets raced to an early 16-0 lead and spent the rest of the tournament’s opening game fighting off comeback bids by the Mountaineers.

Senior guards Slaht Hunter and Caleb Rose scored 28 and 27 points, respectively, to lead the 7-9 Jackets, who entered the season as the All A favorite. Jason Bray added 17 and Gavon Thomas chipped in with 11.

Junior guard Wayne Estep led the 7-7 Mountaineers with 22 points. Sochi Onuoha scored 19, while Jacob Hall chipped in 15 and Hamilton Toropo added 11.

Both teams played without a starting senior guard as OBI was without


Williamsburg (88) — Caleb Rose 27, Slaht Hunter 28, Jason Bray 17, Gavon Thomas 11, Larry Bray 5.

Oneida Baptist (78) — Sochi Onuoha 19, Wayne Estep 22, Jacob Hall 15, Hamilton Toropo 11, Kenna Onuoha 2, Isaiah Marcum 11.


Red Bird 70, Jackson County 69

The Cardinals broke a six-year All “A” Classic losing streak by edging Jackson County.

Austin Napier scored 21 and Dalton Asher added 20 for the 4-12 Cardinals. Dalton Finley and Deagan Finley contributed 12 points each.

Logan Rose led the 7-6 Generals with 22 points. Clay Akemon and Andrew Madden added 18 and 17 points, respectively.


Red Bird (70) — Dalton Finley 12, Deagon Finley 12, Tyler Preston 5, Austin Napier 21, Dalton Asher 20.

Jackson County (69) — Andrew Madden 17, Clay Akemon 18, Logan Rose 22, Garrett Roark 4, Jude Lake 4, Kody Bowling 2, Colby Bales 2.


Middlesboro 51, Lynn Camp 48

Trailing by six going into the fourth quarter, the defending All A regional champion Jackets rallied to edge Lynn Camp.

Senior guards Trey Brock and Jabari Kyle led the 8-6 Jackets with 15 points each.

Max Burd scored 18 to lead the 9-8 Wildcats. Mason Prater added 15.


Middlesboro (51) — Jordan Davis 3, Jabari Kyle 15, Trey Brock 15, T.J. Patterson 8, Jay West 5, Bryson Barnard 5.

Lynn Camp (48) — Max Bird 18, Mason Prater 15, Matt Disney 4, Spencer Gilbert 4, Chase Brown 4, Jace Boggs 3.