Dragons battle Pikeville before falling 63-60

Published 2:13 pm Saturday, January 8, 2022

Harlan coach Derrick Akal knew what type of team was coming in to play his Green Dragons on Tuesday.

After falling to the Panthers 95-69 in Pikeville on Dec. 17, Akal knew his team had to play well.

Harlan shot 50 percent from the field (23 of 46), but Pikeville hit 24 of 44 for 54 percent.

“We obviously wanted to win the basketball game, but we made some mental errors and missed some easy shots in the last three or four minutes when we got it close,” said Akal. “I thought we played hard, but Pikeville is a very good basketball team.”

Senior forward Nick Robinson powered the Panthers with 29 points on 12 of 13 shooting. He also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Dragons senior point guard Jordan Akal was held to 16 points. It was Jaedyn Gist, a junior forward, who led Harlan with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

Will Austin, also a junior forward, hit seven of nine shots from the field and finished with 14 points and eight boards.
“That’s a really good basketball team, one of the best in the 13th Region, so we knew we were in for battle. My guys fought hard,” Pikeville coach Elisha Justice said.

Robinson scored six points in the first quarter as the Panthers took a 13-9 advantage.

Alex Rogers and Robinson knocked down eight points apiece in the second period as Pikeville led 33-30 at halftime.

Gist scored seven and Austin added three baskets in the second quarter for Harlan.

Robinson and Keian Warrix scored seven each as the Panthers went into the final period ahead 47-43.

Akal put in nine fourth-quarter points, but Robinson scored eight and Rylee Samons added seven as Pikeville completed a two-game series sweep.

Harlan committed 12 turnovers while the Panthers had eight.

The Panthers played without the services of senior guard Laithan Hall.

“We didn’t get as many shots off as usual. They did a really good defensively,” said Akal. “I told our guys there would be days like this.”

Harlan (9-5) is participating in the 13th Region All “A” Classic that began Saturday at Harlan High School. The Dragons will visit Harlan County on

Saturday in a 52nd District showdown. The game is part of a girls/boys doubleheader.

Harlan continues district play at Bell County on Tuesday in another girls/boys doubleheader.

Pikeville (11-1) opened the 15th Region All “A” Classic on Tuesday against Phelps.

The two teams could meet again in the All “A” Classic State Tournament later this month.

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Carter Hurley scored 14 points as Pikeville won 61-34 in the junior varsity game.

The Panthers also got 12 points from Charlie Fitzer. Ian Onkst and Mason Wells each had 10.

Matthew Pennington led the 0-2 Dragons with 12 points. Trent Cole followed with seven points. Nate Montanaro and Connor Daniels scored five apiece while Darius Akal and Derek Pruitt each tallied two. Jake Brewer added one.

Contributing sports writer Paul Lunsford wrote this for the Harlan Enterprise.