Green Dragons claim third straight 13th Region All “A”

Published 6:40 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2022

A blowout, a rout and a trouncing defines the three outcomes from host Harlan in the 13th Region All “A” Classic.
Harlan opened with a 100-35 blowout of Red Bird on Saturday, followed by an 84-47 rout over Lynn Camp on Monday in the semifinals and finished things off Tuesday trouncing the Tigers of Barbourville 78-55 to win the region tournament for the third straight year.
“I am proud of this group,” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal. “This is their third straight trip to the state and being able to three-peat doesn’t happen often.”
Harlan senior point guard Jordan Akal knocked down nine 3-pointers and finished with 33 points to lead the Green Dragons. Junior forward Jaedyn Gist poured in 15.
Sophomore guard Kyler McLendon scored 10 points while his brother, Kaleb McLendon tossed in eight. Will Austin also contributed eight points. Matthew Pennington tallied four points.
Ty Clark, a junior guard, led Barbourville with 21 points. Matthew Warren, a junior guard, scored 13. Jacob Lundy added six.
Akal thought his sophomore guard played well.
“Probably the best game Kyler’s played. If we can get that contribution from Kyler it just makes us a better team,” added Akal.
Jordan Akal nailed four 3-pointers in the opening quarter as the Green Dragons took a 20-10 advantage.
Clark poured in 10 second-quarter points for the Tigers but Harlan took a 39-26 lead into the break. Akal scored nine in the period.
The Dragons had a 21-13 spurt in the third quarter with Akal sinking four more treys
Harlan, which took a 60-39 cushion into the fourth period, got five p[oints from, Gist, and four apiece from Austin and Penniongton.
Not only did the Dragons win their third consecutive game, Harlan won claimed wins in nine out of the last 10 outings.
Harlan (12-5) was scheduled to play at Harlan County on Saturday in a girls/boys doubleheader. The Green Dragons remained in district competition on Tuesday, playing at Bell County.
Harlan advances to the All “A” Classic State Tournament beginning Jan. 27 in Richmond on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University.
Barbourville (9-3) was slated to visit J. Frank White Academy, Tenn., on Thursday, followed by Perry Central in the Big Lou Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Hazard on Friday.
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Jordan Akal poured in 31 points as the Green Dragons won over Lynn Camp in the semifinals on Monday.
Gist scored 20 and grabbed eight rebounds. Kaleb McLendon tossed in 10 as Harlan outrebounded the Wildcats 34-23.
Akal and Gist each hit 3s in the opening three minutes as Harlan raced to a 12-2 lead with the help of a 5-0 advantage on the boards. The lead grew to 23-12 at the end of the quarter as Gist, Will Austin and Akal each had two baskets.
Akal hit four of his first five shots in the second quarter as the Dragons’ advantage quickly grew to 21. A dunk by Kaleb McLendon and a three-point play from Akal helped push the lead to 46-20. Four free throws by Engle helped cut the deficit to 48-27 at halftime.
Allen went out with 5:0 left in the third quarter as Harlan went on a 7-0 run to go up by 34. Engle hit a 3, but Akal followed with a basket and Gist hit two free throws to start a running clock. The Dragons led 75-35 going into the final period after hitting eight of 12 shots in the quarter and committing no turnovers.
Engle, a senior guard, paced Lynn Camp (10-5) with 23 points. Senior center Gavin Allen scored 10.
Barbourville reached the finals with a 45-35 victory over Middlesboro.
Jordan Collins, a senior guard, led the Tigers with 15 points. Travis Scott, a junior guard, tossed in 13 points and added eight rebounds.
Senior point guard Jayden Schertz paced the Yellow Jackets with 10 points. Trey King and Trey Kyle each scored nine. Cayden Grigsby collected four points while Jay Tyler West added three.
Middlesboro (6-9) was scheduled to host Oneida Baptist on Friday and visit Owsley County on Saturday. The Jackets will play a pair of 52nd district doubleheaders next week, at Harlan County on Tuesday and home against Bell County on Feb. 21.
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The weather hasn’t allowed the doom students to return to Red Bird Mission as of Saturday.
The Cardinals were missing seven players, including three starters and a starting lineup that including a senior, a junior and three eighth-graders.
Harlan scored 44 points in the first quarter of Saturday’s 13th Region All “A” Classic against Red Bird and rolled to a 100-35 victory.
“It is what it is,” said Red Bird coach Jared Jones. 
The Green Dragons starters played one quarter and that was more than enough.
Akal scored 25 in the opening period while Austin and Kaleb McLendon added six apiece.
Harlan coach Derrick Akal went to his reserves the rest of the game.
“Everyone got a chance to play and shoot and everyone had a chance to get their names in the newspaper,” Akal added.
Senior guard Johann Gist and junior guard Tristan Burgan tossed in 11 points apiece. John Mark Bryson finished with 10 points, all in the second quarter.
Junior guard Austin Osborne led the 2-9 Cardinals with 19 points. Juan Bynum, a senior guard, scored 16. No other Red Bird player scored.
Harlan, which hit 18 of 28 from the field, led 44-10 after eight minutes of play.
Johann Gist knocked down 11 second-quarter points and Bryson scored 10 as the Dragons went ahead 69-16 at halftime.
Harlan’s Cameron Maples scored eight points in the third quarter as the lead swelled to 87-30 after three quarters.
Kelan Napier contributed five points while Burgan and Nate Montanaro scored four each in the Dragons’ final period.
The Green Dragons pulled down 65 rebounds. Darius Akal had a game-high 13. Montanaro grabbed eight. McLendon and Matthew Pennington each had seven.
Red Bird, which had 17 boards, were eight of 38 from behind the arc. The Dragons were 16 of 37 from 3-point range.
The surprising statistic of the game was Red Bird hit 1-1 at the free throw line while HHS never got to the attempt any.  
The last time the Dragons scored 100 points was Jan. 25, 2019 at Cordia, a 107-86 win. Red Bird fell to North Laurel 104-31 in the 49th District Tournament last season.
In other All “A” Classic games from Saturday, the Middlesboro Yellow Jackets outscored Pineville 19-10 in the fourth quarter to claim a 55-49 win.
Grigsby and West scored 20 points apiece to lead the Yellow Jackets.
Freshman guard Sawyer Thompson once again led the Mountain Lions with 22 points. Evan Biliter, a junior forward, tossed in 10. Eli Thompson had six points.
Pineville missed 11 of 12 shots in the final quarter, but did hit eight of eight free throws in the period.
The 10-8 Lions hosted Owsley County on Tuesday and plays host to Harlan County on Friday. Pineville takes on Cordia in the Big Lou Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Saturday at Perry Central.
Williamsburg missed two shots in the closing seconds as Barbourville edged the Yellow Jackets 65-64.
A 3-pointer by Jordan Collins put the Tigers ahead for good with 29 seconds to play.
Collins fired in 25 points to lead Barbourville. Matthew Warren scored 18. Ethan Smith added six. 
The Jackets, who have lost three straight, were led by junior forward Conner Lay and junior guard Martin Shannon with 17 points each. Micah Steely scored eight.
Williamsburg (9-5) will play host to South Laurel on Friday and Powell County on Saturday.
Senior guard Micah Engle poured in 28 points as Lynn Camp down Jackson County 73-64.
The Wildcats also got 19 points and 11 rebounds from Allen. Sparks collected 14 points.
Luke Adkins, a senior guard, paced the Generals with 17 points. Jude Lakes, a junior guard, followed with 15 points. Colby Bales scored 11 and Trent Hammons added 10 points.
Jackson County (7-4) travels to Powell County on Tuesday, plays host to Red Bird on Friday and meets Buckhorn in the Big Lou Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Perry Central on Saturday.
Sports contributor Paul Lunsford wrote this story for the Harlan Enterprise.