Dragons burn Bobcats in Monday clash
By Paul Lunsford
The first four minutes of the third quarter played large for the Harlan Green Dragons on Monday against visiting Bell County.
The Bobcats held a 37-31 advantage at halftime in the 52nd District showdown.
Kyler McLendon nailed a pair of 3-pointers. William Austin scored five points as Harlan opened the second half with a 16-2 run to take a 47-39 following two free throws by Kaleb McLendon at the 4:26 mark.
A layup and one of two free throws by Jardyn Gist pushed the lead to 50-40 with 2:38 remaining in the third quarter. Cameron Burnett scored five points as the Bobcats cut the deficit to four on minute later.
A pair of three-point plays Gist and a 3-pointer by Michael Pennington allowed Harlan to take a 59-48 advantage into the fourth quarter.
“I thought our intensity picked up after halftime,” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal. “I still don’t think we have the energy like we need. We forced a few turnovers and they missed a few shots, but they played hard.”
With both teams in the double-bonus due to a closely-called game, free throws played a big part of the final period.
Bell County hit eight of 12 free throws in the quarter while the Dragons were 11 of 18 at the line.
“Both teams got into foul trouble,” said Akal. “When we got into foul trouble, we had a couple of guys step up and hit some shots.”
The Bobcats got as close as nine points, 65-56, with 3:30 left in the game.
Daniel Thomas, Dalton Stepp and Cameron Burnett fouled out for Bell in the fourth quarter.
Harlan placed four players in double figures on the night.
Gist led the Green Dragons with 20 points. Kyler McLendon followed with 19. Jordan Akal was held to 14 points. Austin finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Dawson Woolum led Bell County with 23 points. Burnett scored 22 and grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds. Stepp added nine points while Hayden Callebs tossed in eight points and had nine boards.
Harlan kept the lead most of the first quarter. Two baskets by Woolum and a jumper by Burnett gave Bell County a 15-12 lead after one quarter.
Both teams struggled from the field in the opening period. Harlan missed 12 of 18 shots while the Bobcats were six of 15.
“I thought we were sluggish early in the game, but Bell County played well,” said Akal. “I’ve go tot give them credit. We still don’t have our energy back, but that’s why were playing to get that back.”
A pair of 3-pointers by Austin quickly gave Harlan a 18-15 edge. Another trey by Kyler McLendon had the Dragons ahead 22-17 at the 5:16 mark of the second quarter.
Three treys by Stepp gave Bell a 32-26 lead with 2:37 remaining in the half.
The Green Dragons cut the deficit to 33-31 following a 3-pointer by Kaleb McLendon, but a pair of baskets by Callebs pushed the lead to six at the break.
Harlan (7-1) returns to action tonight at Lynn Camp. The Dragons will visit Barbourville on Thursday before returning home to battle Harlan County on Friday.
Bell County (5-8 overall, 1-3 district) plays host to Whitley County tonight and J. Frank White Academy (Tenn.) on Friday.
Cole Hoskins fired in 18 points as Bell County downed the Dragons 40-26 in the junior varsity game.
Conner McGeorge added 12 points for the Bobcats.
Jared Moore paced Harlan with nine points. Nate Montanaro followed with six. Johann Gist scored four. Hunter Clem, Darius Akal and Matthew Pennington added two apiece. John Bryson had one point.
BELL COUNTY (5-8)
Dawson Woolum 7-18 8-12 23, Hayden Callebs 4-10 0-0 8, Daniel Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Dalton Stepp 3-5 0-0 6, Cameron Burnett 6-14 10-14 22, Chance Belcher 0-5 1-2 1, Carter McCune 0-0 3-4 3, Conner McGeorge 0-2 0-0 0, Cole Hoskins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-54 22-32 66.
Jordan Akal 2-8 10-12 14, Kyler McLendon 7-14 2-4 19, Kaleb McLendon 1-11 4-6 7, Jaedyn Gist 7-13 6-11 20, William Austin 4-6 0-0 11, Matthew Pennington 1-1 0-0 3, Johann Gist 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 23-55 22-33 76.
Bell County 15 22 11 18 – 66
Harlan 12 19 28 17 – 76
3-Point goals: Bell County 4-13 (Stepp 3-4, Woolum 1-6, Belcher 0-3), Harlan 8-24 (Austin 3-4, Kyler McLendon 3-6, Pennington 1-1, Kaleb McLendon 1-9, Akal 0-4). Rebounds: Bell County 34 (Burnett 16, Callebs 9, Woolum 5, McCune 2, Stepp 1, McGeorge 1), Harlan 33 (Austin 9, Jaedyn Gist 8, Akal 6, Kaleb McLendon 5, Kyler McLendon 4, Pennington 1). Assists: Bell County 4 (Callebs 3), Harlan 11 (Kyler McLendon 3, Kaleb McLendon 3, Jaedyn Gist 3). Turnovers: Bell County 12, Harlan 13. Fouled out: Bell County (Thomas, Stepp, Burnett), Harlan (Austin). Technical fouls: Bell County (Thomas), Harlan (Akal).