Akal scores 33 as Dragons avenge loss to Bell

Published 11:53 am Friday, February 4, 2022

A week ago, Bell County rolled past Harlan 67-45 at Log Mountain, but things went different as the Dragons avenged the loss to defeat the Bobcats 68-61 at Harlan on Tuesday.

With the win, Harlan stayed alive for the top seed in the 52nd District Tournament.

Bell County stands at 3-2 in district play while the Green Dragons improved to 2-2. Harlan County is currently 3-1 while Middlesboro is 0-3 in the district.

Harlan connected on 11 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter and outscored the Bobcats 24-19 to escape with the win.
“We didn’t play very well,” said Bell County coach Brad Sizemore. “We gave ourselves chances. We got back in it, then we hit a dry spell. I give the other team credit. They outplayed us.”

Harlan senior guard Jordan Akal fired in 33 points including 14 of 16 from the free throw line. Akal added eight boards. Jaedyn Gist scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Dragons. Kaleb McLendon finished with seven points.
“We made some big shots and played some pretty good defense for the most part and rebounded pretty well,” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal.

Cameron Burnett, Bell’s senior forward, led the Bobcats with 21 points and eight rebounds. Dalton Stepp contributed 14. Dawson Woolum scored nine while Chanse Belcher added seven.

Harlan jumped out to an 18-13 lead. Akal and Burnett each had seven points to lead their teams in the period.

The Dragons took control of the game in the second quarter, building a 15-point lead at one point and taking an 11-point advantage (36-25) into the locker room.

The Bobcats fought back in the third quarter, outscoring the Dragons 17-8 and pulling within two — 44-42 — entering the final period.
Stepp nailed a pair of 3-pointers and Carter McCune added another in the quarter for the Bobcats.

The Dragons outrebounded Bell High 27-20. Hayden Callebs added six for the Bobcats.
Harlan committed 14 turnovers while the Bobcats had 12.

The Dragons were 18 of 40 from the field for 45 percent. Bell was 20 of 50 from the field for 40 percent.

Bell County (16-4) played host to Owsley County on Thursday and was scheduled to play Middlesboro on Log Mountain on Friday. The Bobcats will entertain Whitley County on Saturday and Oneida Baptist on Tuesday.

Harlan (16-8) travels to Middlesboro on Saturday. The Green Dragons will visit Knox Central on Monday before returning home to play Harlan County in a key district matchup on Tuesday. The game will be apart of a girls/boys doubleheader.

Harlan 68, Bell County 61

BELL COUNTY (16-4)
Hayden Callebs 1-3 1-2 3, Dawson Woolum 2-8 5-5 9, Carter McCune 2-4 0-0 5, Dalton Stepp 5-11 1-4 14, Cameron Burnett 8-14 5-7 21, Chance Belcher 1-5 2-2 5, Noah Brock 1-2 0-0 3, Cole Hoskins 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 20-50 15-21 61.
HARLAN (16-8)
Jordan Akal 8-17 14-16 33, Kyler McLendon 0-3 3-4 3, Kaleb McLendon 2-6 1-2 5, Jaedyn Gist 5-8 3-3 14, Will Austin 1-1 3-5 5, Nate Montanaro 1-3 0-0 3, Johann Gist 1-2 0-0 3, John Mark Bryson 0-0 0-0 0, Tristan Burgan 0-0 0-0 0, Darius Akal 0-0 0-0 0, Derek Pruitt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-40 24-30 68.
Bell County 13 12 17 19 — 61
Harlan 18 18 8 24 — 68
3-point goals: Bell County 6-16 (Stepp 3-5, Brock 1-2, Belcher 1-3, McCune 1-4, Callebs 0-1, Burnett 0-1), Harlan 8-19 (Akal 3-8, Kaleb McLendon 2-5, Montanaro 1-2, Johann Gist 1-2, Kyler McLendon 0-2). Rebounds: Bell County 20 (Burnett 8, Callebs 6, Hoskins 3, Woolum 2, McCune 1), Harlan 27 (Jaedyn Gist 9, Akal 8, Austin 5, Kyler McLendon 3, Kaleb McLendon 1, Montanaro 1).

Sports contributor Paul Lunsford wrote this story for the Harlan Enterprise.