Green Dragons edge Knott in season opener

Published 12:27 pm Wednesday, December 15, 2021

After a few schedule changes, the Harlan Green Dragons were able to have a season-opener.

Playing in the 35th Annual WYMT Food City Mountain Classic is probably not the best way to start off the season, but Harlan had to count on its defense Wednesday evening to beat Knott Central 43-39.

The Dragons struggled offensively against the host Patriots.

Harlan hit 16 of 51 from the field for 31 percent compared to Knott’s 36 percent (17 of 47). The Dragons made 8 3-pointers to just for the Patriots.

Harlan was led in scoring by junior forward Jaedyn Gist with 16 points, including seven of nine from the field. He also drained a pair of 3’s. Senior guard Jordan Akal hit five of 20 from the field but finished with 14 points. Kalen McLendon nailed three treys for nine points.

Sophomore guard Jayden Huff led Knott Central with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Hunter Haddix, also a sophomore guard, added eight points. Chuck Mullins and Caleb Shepherd each scored six, while Drake Slone tallied five points.

Harlan outrebounded the Patriots 31-27. Will Austin grabbed 11 for the Green Dragons. He contributed four points.

Gist poured in 10 points in the opening quarter as Harlan took a 12-10 advantage.

The game was tied at 12-12 and 15-15 before McLendon nailed a 3-pointer and Gist added a layup giving the Green Dragons a 20-17 lead.

Akal nailed a 3 and Gist had a jumper to make it 25-18 before the Patriots reeled off eight unanswered points.

McLendon and Akal each connected on 3’s to give Harlan the lead for good at 34-28 after third quarter.

The lead swelled to nine on two different occasions in the final period.

Knott would get as close as 40-38 in the final minute.

With the win, Harlan advances to the semifinals on Friday against Perry Central, a 64-47 winner over Paintsville, around 8:15 p.m.

Friday’s opening game features Knox Central (2-0) battling Breathitt County (3-0) at 6:45 p.m.

The finals are scheduled for Saturday.