BEVERLY — The Pineville Mountain Lions overcame a scrappy defensive effort from Harlan and pulled away late for a 52-39 win in the quarterfinals of the 13th Region All “A” Classic at Red Bird.
Senior forward Byron David Asher led the Lions with 17 points while center John Simpson and point guard Seth Jeffrey both finished with 12 and Cody Collett added eight.
The Green Dragons were led by Caleb Hogue’s 12 points while Nathan Young added nine.
“It was obviously a good win. Give Harlan a tremendous amount of credit, they came in and absolutely took it to us,” said Lion coach J.D. Strange. “Those young kids played loose and had fun. I thought we played a little tight, but we kept battling and came out in the end.”
Harlan scored the game’s first five points and clung to leads of 14-13 after one quarter and 21-20 at the half.
Pineville got a 3 from Jeffrey to open the third quarter. Asher scored four of his points and Simpson and Connor Ford also had baskets as the Lions took a 31-27 lead into the fourth.
“We just couldn’t make a shot. We figured it up and we were 25 percent from the floor — you’re not going to beat anybody that way,” said Harlan coach David Parks. “Defensively, the effort was tremendous. We told them we felt like we needed to keep the score in the 40s or 50s to have a chance to win. It was in the 20s at the half, but in the second half we couldn’t buy a shot.”
The defensive struggle continued into the fourth quarter. Asher hit one free throw with 7:03 to play and Collett connected with a floater in the lane to push the lead to 34-27 at the 6:15 mark.
Hogue answered with a basket on the other end for Harlan, but Collett again came through with a 15-foot jumper to push the lead back out to seven with 5:30 to go.
From there the Lions pulled away at the free throw line. Led by Jeffrey’s 8-for-8 effort, Pineville hit 17-of-20 free throws down the stretch to end up winning by 13.
“The inside is one of our strengths, but our guard play is too. At halftime I noticed that our two bigs had just about all of our points,” said Strange. “Seth came out and hit a big shot, Cody started making some shots, Byron made some good strong moves and that took a lot of pressure off John. John had been carrying us alot.”
Harlan (4-13) will return to action on Saturday when they travel to Riverside Christian. Parks said better times are ahead for his young squad.
“It’s a young bunch and we’re still feeling our way through. It seems like we fix one problem and something else occurs. We’ve got the wrong kid shooting the ball or we forget to block out,” he said. “We’re just not good enough offensively to overcome those things when they happen. We’re going to keep plugging along and play hard and do the best we can. There are brighter times ahead.”
Pineville (11-6) advances to Thursday semifinal where they’ll take on Jackson County at 6 p.m. The Generals got past host Red Bird 79-42 in Monday’s early game.
— — —
Harlan……14…7….6…12 — 39
Pineville…13…7…11…21 — 52
Harlan (39): Caleb Hogue 12, Nathan Young 9, Isaiah Johnson 4, Drew Parks 2, Aaron Simpson 0, David Allen 4, Dylan McNeil 3, Manny Davis 2, Cody Morris 2, Leighton Piper 1.
PINEVILLE (52): Byron David Asher 17, John Simpson 12, Seth Jeffrey 12, Cody Collett 8, Jared Philpot 1, Connor Ford 2, Isaac Longworth 0, Dalton Ledbetter 0, Jacob Skinner 0.