Dragons build momentum, defeat Lions

When his Green Dragons were losing 10 straight games against a tough schedule to start the season, Harlan coach Derrick Akal was counting on the experience to help his team be at its best in February. It’s beginning to look as if that plan is working.

Coming off their biggest win of the season Tuesday at Bell County, the Dragons were able to build momentum with a 59-45 victory Thursday over visiting Pineville.

“We wanted to carry over what we did at Bell, and we had a good practice yesterday,” Akal said. “I thought the guys played hard. We have a little momentum, but we have Perry Central on Saturday and North Laurel on Monday, so we’ll see.”

Harlan (5-14) led for all but a couple of minutes in the second quarter as a strong defensive effort limited Pineville to only 25 percent (12 of 48) shooting.

“I thought we brought energy and intensity. We challenged shots and tried to run them off the 3-point line,” Akal said. “I think we did a good job defensively, and that won us the game.”

Junior guards Cade Barnes and Kilian Ledford led the Dragons with 11 points each. Harlan also got plenty of help from its bench as junior center Carter Barnes hit five of six shots in a 10-point effort and senior guard Austin Adams provided an energy boost in an eight-point performance.

“We don’t have a guy who will get us 25 a game, so everyone has to contribute. Everyone contributed tonight, especially on the defensive end,” Akal said.

Junior guard Ben Goodin scored 20 points to lead the Lions, who fell to 4-19.

Pineville missed its first seven shots as Harlan slowly built a 7-0 lead before Reed Baker finally broke the Lions’ drought. Harlan hit only five of 15 shots in the quarter but led 12-4.

The Lions had their best run of the night midway through the second quarter, reeling off 11 straight points, capped by two free throws and a basket by Goodin, to go up 20-17.

Adams and Carter Barnes scored the next six points as Harlan bounced back to take a 28-25 lead into the break.

Pineville came out cold again in the third quarter, going over three minutes without a point as Harlan regained control. Carter Barnes, Ledford and Cade Barnes each had two baskets in the period as Harlan built a 46-34 lead.

The Lions missed 14 of 18 shots in the fourth quarter as Harlan took its biggest lead late in the game at 18 on baskets by Jordan Akal and Adams.

Harlan returns to action Saturday at Perry Central. Pineville plays host to Bell County on Monday.

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Harlan 59, Pineville 45

PINEVILLE (4-19)

Josh Lawson 3-11 2-6 9, Braxton Caldwell 1-10 1-2 3, Ben Goodin 5-13 10-10 20, Marcus Estep 0-4 0-1 0, Landon Couch 0-1 0-0 0, Chris Saylor 1-3 0-0 3, Matt Golden 0-0 2-6 2, Reed Baker 1-3 4-4 6, Leevi Hunter 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 12-48 19-29 45.

HARLAN (5-14)

Jordan Akal 1-4 1-2 3, Cade Barnes 3-7 2-2 11, Jacob Wilson 2-7 0-0 6, Kilian Ledford 5-9 0-0 11, Jon Eldridge 2-8 0-2 4, Carter Barnes 5-6 0-0 10, Tyler Carmical 1-3 0-0 3, Austin Adams 4-7 0-1 8, Dakota Shepherd 0-1 0-0 0, Tate Bryson 0-0 0-0 0, Caleb Adkins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-53 3-9 59.

PIneville 4 21 9 11 — 45

Harlan 12 16 18 13 — 59

3-point goals: Pineville 2-19 (Saylor 1-3, Lawson 1-7, Estep 0-1, Baker 0-2, Caldwell 0-6), Harlan 8-22 (Cade Barnes 3-7, Wilson 2-7, Hawkins 1-1, Carmical 1-3, Akal 0-2, Adams 0-2). Rebounds: Pineville 25 (Lawson 7, Estep 4, Baker 4, Saylor 3, Goodin 2, Couch 2, Hunter 2, Caldwell 1). Turnovers: Pineville 16, Harlan 17. Fouled out: Pineville (Golden). Technical fouls: Harlan (Shepherd).