Harlan gets second big win

By Paul Lunsford

In January, the Harlan Green Dragons picked up a huge home victory, as well as the first-ever win over county-rival Harlan County. Harlan got its second biggest home win of the season on Tuesday defeating Clay County 83-73.

The Dragons fell to the Tigers 75-70 in Manchester on Feb. 20.

Harlan honored Trey Barnes before the game, and the senior came through with three 3-pointers and finishing with nine points and two rebounds.

Trey kind of set the tone. He gave us come energy and confidence,” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal. “I also thought he played a good game at Pineville (last week).”

Junior guard Jordan Akal led the Green Dragons in scoring with 25 points, including five 3-pointers. Jaedyn Gist poured in 19 points and pulled down eight boards.

Kaleb McLendon scored 12 points. Kyler McLendon and William Austin each scored nine points. Austin had 10 rebounds, as the Dragons outrebounded Clay County 36-27.

Harlan completed a perfect 8-0 record at home during the regular season. The Dragons will host the 52nd District Tournament next week.

Senior guard Connor Robinson led all scorers with 31 points. He grabbed 10 rebounds. Connor Farmer fired in 19 points Raven Abner added nine points and six rebounds.

Barnes hit his treys in the first quarter as the Green Dragons took a 22-17 advantage. Kaleb McKendon had eight points in the opening period.

Robinson scored 13 of the team’s 17 points in the first eight minutes.

Akal poured in 11 points in the second quarter as Harlan pushed the lead to 36-28 at halftime.

I thought in the first half, we made some shots,” said Akal. We played great defense and made them take tough shots.”

Gist had eight third-quarter points and Akal scored five as the Dragons took a 64-50 lead into the final quarter.

The Tigers outscored the Dragons 23-19 in the fourth quarter. Harlan hit 12 free throws in the last period and escaped with a 10-point victory.

When Clay made their run, we made enough plays on the defensive end and even on the offensive end,” added Akal. “I told them during one of the time outs tonight, we need this win.

For us to get the win at home against that kind of team, we’re happy.”

The Dragons shot 52 percent (28 of 54) from the field, including 13 3-pointers. Clay hit 32 of 70 from the field for 46 percent.

Harlan (12-5) travels to Leslie County on Saturday and visit Red Bird for a girls/boys doubleheader on March 9 to end the regular season.

Clay County (11-6) returns to action Thursday at Red Bird (0-14) and visits Covington Catholic on Friday. The Tigers will close the regular season at home, beginning with Middlesboro on Tuesday and concluding with Knox Central on March 11.

Harlan 83, Clay County 73

Harlan (83) – Jordan Akal 25, Kaleb McKendon 12, Trey Barnes 9, Jaedyn Gist 19, William Austin 9, Kyler McLendon 9, Johann Gist 0.

Clay County (73) – Connor Robinson 31, Raven Abner 9, Connor Farmer 19, Landon Hensley 1, Tate Farmer 6, Cole Garrison 7, Brady Wolfe 0.

Clay County 17 11 22 23 – 73

Harlan 22 19 23 19 – 83

3-Point goals: Clay County 4 (Abner 2, Robinson 1, C. Farmer 1), Harlan 13 (Akal 5, Barnes 3, Kaleb McLendon 2, Jaedyn Gist 2, Kyler McLendon 1). Rebounds: Clay County 27 (Robinson 9), Harlan 36 (Austin 10). Turnovers: Clay County 9, Harlan 16. Technical foul: Clay County (C. Farmer).