Austin Shines Early as Harlan Downs Bulldogs

Published 7:19 am Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Junior center Will Austin knocked down nine points in the opening quarter on Wednesday as Harlan defeated visiting Hazard 62-51.

It was the Green Dragons’ third game in three nights.

Jordan Akal hit a 3-pointer and Jaedyn Gist added a basket as Harlan took a 14-6 lead after one quarter.

The Bulldogs missed nine of 11 field goals in the opening period.

Akal nailed a jumper at the 6:07 mark of the second quarter to give the Dragons a 21-10 advantage.

Hazard fought back as Dawson Duff scored five points and Tyson Turner added a basket as the Bulldogs pulled within four, 21-17, with 4:24 remaining in the first half.

A pair of 3-pointers by Max Johnson and two free throws by Duff gave Hazard a 25-23 lead with 1:39 to go.
Gist nailed a trey and added two free throws as Harlan tied at the game at 28-all at halftime.

Johnson 3-pointer with 3:16 to play in the third quarter allowed the Bulldogs to take a 36-33 advantage.

Harlan got a trey by Akal and Kyler McLendon and three points from Gist as the Dragons took a 42-41 edge into the final quarter.

The Green Dragons kept the lead for good in the last period.

Gist and Kyler McLendon each had baskets to open the quarter.

Harlan hit 12 of 14 free throws in the final period to cruise to its 19th win of the season.

“I think he definitely played well in the first half,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said. “We need Will to step up and make plays, especially when the other guys aren’t. It’s something we expect from him. Kyler (McLendon) made some big shots in the second half.”

Hazard played without the services of senior forward Andrew Ford. Ford, the Bulldogs leading scorer at 21.1 points per game, suffered a knee injury in early January.

Akal led Harlan with 21 points, including 16 in the second half. Gist finished with 16 points and six boards while Austin added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Johnson, a junior guard, paced the Bulldogs with 14 points. Duff, a senior guard, poured in 12 points. Sawyer Patrick came off the bench and contributed nine points.

Tyson Turner added eight points and nine rebounds for Hazard.

“They pushed us around a little early. We got a little more physical and started making shots,” Hazard coach Al Holland said. “Harlan has a good team though. They have some really good individual players. I was proud of our kids. This was a good game for us right before the postseason.”

Harlan (19-9) played host to Red Bird on Monday in a girls/boys doubleheader.

Hazard (17-8) played host to Berea on Monday and will welcome cross-town rival Perry Central on Friday.

The Bulldogs will host the 54th District Tournament next week and will play Buckhorn on Tuesday in the opening round.
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Darius Akal nailed two free throws with 10 seconds to play as the Green Dragons claimed a 41-40 win in the junior varsity game.

Conner Daniels fired in 16 points to lead Harlan. Trenton Cole scored nine while Tristan Burgan added five. Matthew Pennington tossed in four.

Akal had three. Nate Montanaro and Derek Pruitt each contributed two.

Clint Davidson led Hazard with 15 points.

Harlan 62, Hazard 51
HAZARD (16-8)
Tyson Turner 3-12 0-1 8, Max Johnson 5-12 0-0 14, Seth Caudill 0-3 0-0 0, Jamel Hazell 2-4 0-0 4, Chris Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Sawyer Patrick 4-6 0-0 9, Dawson Duff 4-8 2-2 12, Cameron Caudill 1-1 2-2 4, Caleb Morris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-47 4-5 51.
HARLAN (19-9)
Jordan Akal 6-16 7-8 21, Kyler McLendon 3-6 0-0 8, Kaleb McLendon 0-1 0-0 0, Jaedyn Gist 5-10 5-6 16, Will Austin 4-7 6-9 15, Nate Montanaro 1-3 0-0 2, Matthew Pennington 0-0 0-0 0, Derek Pruitt 0-0 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-43 18-23 62.
Hazard   6 22 13 10 — 51
Harlan 14 14 14 20 — 62
3-point goals: Hazard 9-21 (Johnson 4-7, Turner 2-5, Duff 2-5, Patrick 1-3, S. Caudill 0-1), Harlan 6-19 (Kyler McLendon 2-2, Akal 2-10, Austin 1-1, Gist 1-3, Kaleb McLendon 0-1, Montanaro 0-2).
Rebounds: Hazard 23 (Turner 9, Johnson 5, Duff 3, C. Caudill 2, Jones 1, Hazell 1, Patrick 1, Morris 1), Harlan 23 (Austin 12, Gist 6, Akal 4, Kaleb McLendon 1).
Turnovers: Hazard 14, Harlan 11.