Chris Jones | Harlan Enterprise

Harlan’s Kaleb McLendon battled with Pineville’s Sean Phipps for a loose ball in Tuesday’s game. Harlan pulled away in the second quarter on the way to a 69-54 victory.

Dragons overcome slow start to defeat Pineville

One night after Harlan County missed 13 of 14 shots in the first quarter and still found a way to win, the Harlan Green Dragons tried a similar approach Tuesday. The Dragons overcame a one-of-13 shooting performance in the first quarter that put them in a seven-point hole before rallying for a 69-54 victory over visiting Pineville on Tuesday.

Harlan turned up intensity on the defensive end in the second quarter and outscored the Lions 29-10 to take control, building a 35-23 halftime. The Dragons’ athleticism caused Pineville trouble at times and a balanced attack on offense led to four in double figures.

“It was just one of those things they had to work through,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said. “It was our first home game in a while. A few years ago, I would have called five timeouts. We were getting good shots, but they just didn’t fall.”

Sophomore guard Jordan Akal heated up after missing his first seven shots and finished with a team-high 19 points. Jaedyn Gist was active on both ends of the floor and finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds. Kaleb McLendon tossed in 13, while Jon Eldridge added 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Junior forward Sean Phipps led the 4-7 Mountain Lions with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Keann Fuson added 17 points.

Phipps had four baskets in the first quarter as Pineville took a 13-6 lead before Harlan came alive. Gist had four baskets and seven rebounds in the second period as the Dragons owned an 18-6 advantage on the boards in taking a 12-point lead.

“We got a few turnovers, and I think that’s when our energy picked up,” Akal said.

Gist had three baskets in the third quarter and Akal added two as the Harlan lead grew to 54-8 by the end of the period. Morton came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Dragons led by as many as 22 points.

Harlan returns to action Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Barbourville in the quarterfinals of the 13th Region All “A” Classic at Williamsburg. Pineville will play host to J. Frank White Academy on Wednesday.

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Led by 15 points from seventh-grade forward Sawyer Thompson, Pineville won 57-49 in junior varsity action. Tristan Hubbard and Ty Clark added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Mountain Lions.

Kyler McLendon scored 15 and Jayden Ward added 14 for the 2-2 Dragons. Matthew Pennington tossed in nine. John Mark Bryson contributed eight. Trey Barnes chipped in with three.

Harlan won its two previous junior varsity games, defeating Williamsburg 60-52 and Lee, Va., 47-36.

McLendon scored 20 against Williamsburg, followed by Barnes with 13, Bryson with 10, Pennington with nine and Ward with eight.

Pennington, Bryson and McLendon each scored 11 and Ward added 10 against Lee. Barnes tossed in four.

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Harlan 69, Pineville 54

PINEVILLE (4-7)

Austin Fuson 0-2 0-0 0, Keenan Fuson 7-14 0-2 17, Clay Goodin 3-13 0-3 6, Sean Phipps 10-18 6-6 26, Landon Couch 0-1 0-0 0, Dalton Mason 1-8 0-0 2, Ty Clark 0-2 0-0 0, Ian Middleton 0-1 0-0 0, Eli Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Sawyer Thompson 1-1 1-1 3, Tristan Hubbard 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-59 7-14 54.

HARLAN (4-7)

Jordan Akal 7-23 2-2 19, Jaedyn Gist 7-15 3-5 17, Kaleb McLendon 4-10 3-4 13, Johann Gist 0-1 0-0 0, Jon Eldridge 4-9 3-4 11, Charles David Morton 3-5 0-2 9, Jayden Ward 0-1 0-0 0, Kyler McLendon 0-0 0-0 0, Trey Barnes 0-1 0-0 0, John Mark Bryson 0-0 0-0 0, Matthew Pennington 0-0 0-0 0, Cameron Maples 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-67 11-17 69.

Pineville 13 10 15 16 — 54

Harlan 6 29 19 15 — 69

3-point goals: Pineville 3-9 (K. Fuson 3-5, Clark 0-1, Mason 0-3), Harlan 8-26 (Morton 3-5, Akal 3-12, Kaleb McLendon 2-5, Barnes 0-1, Eldridge 0-3). Rebounds: Pineville 29 (Phipps 12, Couch 4, Goodin 3, Mason 3, K. Fuson 2, Clark 2, E. Thompson 2, Hubbard 1), Harlan 50 (Jaedyn Gist 18, Eldridge 12, Akal 7, Kaleb McLendon 4, Johann Gist 3, Ward 3, Kyler McLendon 1, Bryson 1, Pennington 1). Turnovers: Pineville 12, Harlan 15. Fouled out: None.