HARLAN — Pineville led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter of their game at Harlan on Thursday, but Green Dragon senior Aaron Simpson led a second-half charge that saw Harlan rally for a 53-52 win.
The Mountain Lions were up by eight at halftime and briefly pushed their lead back to double digits in the third quarter before Simpson took it upon himself to bring the Dragons back.He scored 10 straight points for HHS to make it a three-point game. Manny Davis pulled Harlan to within one. Pineville’s Dalton Ledbetter pushed the lead back to three on a basket in the paint with nine seconds left in the period.
Simpson finished with 19 points to lead Harlan.
“Aaron has carried us the last several games. He has been really good. Hopefully, he can continue to carry us until some of our other guys start playing better,” Harlan coach David Parks said.
Harlan took the lead early in the fourth quarter when Simpson scored off of an offensive rebound to make it 39-38. The teams exchanged baskets for the next four minutes, before a Tyler Miller free throw gave the Dragons a two possession lead with 1:16 remaining. Sophomore Drew Parks preserved the lead with four free throws down the stretch. Parks scored seven points in final 1:16 to keep Harlan in front. Pineville’s John Sproles closed the scoring with a 3-pointer as time expired.
“I told the kids before we started the game that this was one of those trap games. We had beaten them and the kids are not in school. I didn’t know if we would be ready to play or not, and obviously we weren’t,” said Parks. “I don’t know that we could play a whole lot worse and still win. We are going to have to get much better to beat some of these teams we are going to have to play.”
The teams traded baskets for much of the first quarter. Pineville led 11-5 midway through the period, but Harlan closed the gap from that point. Davis had five straight Green Dragon points to reduce the deficit to three, before Miller scored on a putback with one second left to make it 13-12. Davis have five of his ten points in the first quarter. Senior Conner Ford paced the Mountain Lions with five points in the period.
Pineville outscored Harlan 16-9 in the second quarter to take a 29-21 into the break. A pair of free throws from Ford gave the Lions a 12-point advantage with 4:38 remaining in the half. However, Pineville was only able to record three points the rest of the the quarter as Harlan cut into the lead.
John Robbins had 12 points to pace a balanced Mountain Lion offense while Isaac Longworth added 11.
Harlan (4-2) returns to action Monday at home against Buckhorn. Pineville (3-5) will host Rockcastle County in the first game of the Pine Mountain Classic on Dec. 27.
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Pineville (52) — Isaac Longworth 11, Cody Collett 6, John Robbins 12, Connor Ford 9, Dalton Ledbetter 8, John Sproles 6, Will Adams 0.
Harlan (53) — Noah Busroe 2, Drew Parks 10, Aaron Simpson 19, Tyler Miller 5, Jordon Dupar 4, Leighton Piper 0, Manny Davis 10, Brandon Osborne 3.