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Akal scores all 11 in overtime as Dragons down Middlesboro

Unable to capitalize on an opportunity to seal a win in regulation, Harlan sophomore guard Jordan Akal stepped up big in overtime. Akal scored all 11 of Harlan’s points in the extra period as the Dragons advanced to the 52nd District Tournament finals for the fourth straight year with a 67-65 win over Middlesboro in a rematch of last year’s district finals.

“He stepped up, but I expect him to make them in regulation and do me like,” Harlan coach Jordan Akal said of his son. “He made some big shots In overtime, and I’m proud of him and the rest of the team.”

Akal led the 13-15 Dragons with 33 points. Senior center Jon Eldridge added 15 points.

The defending district champion Jackets, who finished 20-10, were led by senior guards Trey Brock and Jabari Kyle with 25 and 19 points, respectively.

Brock scored nine points in the opening quarter as the Jackets outscored Harlan 11-9. Kyle heated up in the second quarter with 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the final to minutes to help the Jackets take a 31-30 lead into the break. Eldridge hit a pair of treys in the quarter for the Dragons as Harlan wiped out a five-point deficit to go up by two before Kyle’s last basket.

Harlan led by four late in the third quarter after two free throws by Akal, but a 3-pointer by Jordan Davis and two baskets by Brock in a 7-0 run put the Jackets up 44-41.

Middlesboro went ice cold in the fourth quarter with only two field goals in the opening seven minutes to help Harlan take a 56-50 lead. Brock broke the drought with a 3-pointer, then Kyle hit two free throws after Akal’s missed to tie the game. Akal and Kyle each missed potential game-winning shots in the final seconds.

Harlan will play tournament host Harlan County on Friday at 7 p.m. in the district finals.

———

Harlan 67, Middlesboro 65 (OT)

HARLAN (13-15)

Jordan Akal 7-23 16-20 33, Kaleb McLendon 2-3 0-0 6, Jaedyn Gist 2-5 2-3 6, Johann Gist 0-1 0-0 0, Jon Eldridge 6-10 1-2 15, Jayden Ward 1-1 0-0 2, Charles David Morton 1-3 0-0 3, Kyler McLendon 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 20-49 19-25 67

MIDDLESBORO (20-10)

Trey Brock 8-16 6-6 25, Jabari Kyle 6-19 5-8 19, Jordan Davis 2-8 1-2 7, Jay West 1-1 2-2 4, T.J. Patterson 3-7 2-7 8, Bryson Barnard 1-4 0-0 2, Eric Helton 0-2 0-1 0, Ethan Parton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-58 16-28 65.

Harlan 9 21 11 15 11 — 67

Middlesboro 11 20 13 12 9 — 65

3-point goals: Harlan 8-26 (Akal 3-12, Kaleb McLendon 2-3, Eldridge 2-5, Morton 1-3, Jaedyn Gist 0-1, Johann Gist 0-1, Kyler McLendon 0-1), Middlesboro 14-27 (Brock 5-8, Kyle 4-6, Patterson 3-4, Davis 2-6, Helton 0-1, Barnard 0-2). Rebounds: Harlan 28 (Eldridge 8), Middlesboro 36 (Patterson 13). Assists: Harlan 13 (Jaedyn Gist 6), Middlesboro 7 (Patterson 3). Turnovers: Harlan 15, Middlesboro 11. Fouled out: Harlan (Kaleb McLendon, Jaedyn Gist), Middlesboro (Brock).