An aggressive full-court trapping defense and a few clutch baskets helped visiting Barbourville continue its recent mastery of the Harlan Green Dragons on Friday.
Brentley Perry drained a baseline jumper in the closing seconds to force overtime, and the Tigers held on for a 62-59 victory, spoiling Harlan’s senior night and claiming their third win over the Dragons in less than three weeks.
Barbourville (16-8) hassled the Dragons into 16 turnovers and capitalized on nearly every one, much to the chagrin of Harlan coach David Parks.
“When they were trapping, we never made them pay for pressing us, and that’s something you have to do,” he said. “It goes with experience, and we’re lacking in that. We’re going to get better and better at it, but right now, we just have difficulty with teams pressing us. We just have to live with it right now.”
Senior forward Jason Mills scored a game-high 25 points, including six in the fourth quarter and overtime to help the Tigers rally after trailing for most of the game.
Harlan (13-7) fell behind 4-0 early, but closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run that was fueled entirely by the Dragons’ three seniors (Aaron Simpson, Manny Davis and Leighton Piper), all of whom were in the starting lineup.
The seniors continued to account for most of Harlan’s offense in the second quarter as the team’s leading scorer, junior forward Tyler Miller, struggled with two points on 1-for-9 showing in the first half. Simpson, Piper and Davis scored nine, eight and seven points, respectively, in the half as the Dragons claimed a 28-21 halftime lead.
“They played as hard as they could play, and they gave us everything they could give us,” Parks said. “They’re good kids, and I really hate to see them go. They played well tonight.”
Miller got on track in third quarter, scoring the Dragons’ first three buckets. A basket by Tanner Moore and a pair of free throws by Austin Eldridge cut Barbourville’s deficit to four midway through the period. Harlan countered with a jumper by Simpson and a 3-pointer by Drew Parks, but Mills converted a three-point play and Eldridge scored off a steal to cut Harlan’s lead to 45-41 after three quarters.
The Dragons managed to hold the lead until the 4:24 mark in the fourth quarter, when a pair of Mills free throws tied the score at 49-49. Parks answered with a trey before a pair of baskets by Moore put the Tigers ahead for the first time since early in the first quarter.
With under a minute to play, Parks nailed another 3-pointer. The Tigers missed a couple of scoring opportunities before fouling Davis with 10 seconds to play. The senior missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Moore passed to Perry, who knocked down the baseline jumper with four seconds remaining to force the extra period.
“I don’t know how many and-ones they had – and deservedly so. We have a lot of trouble containing the ball, and it showed again tonight,” Parks said. “We get beat down the middle, and somebody steps off and helps, and they get a basket. It’s just little things.”
Davis drew a foul early in overtime and hit a pair of free throws. He later added a basket to give the Dragons a 59-56 lead with 2:45 to play. But Wade Liford answered on the Tigers’ ensuing possession with a layup. Harlan lost both Simpson and Miller to fouls in overtime, and Mills hit four three throws in the final two minutes to seal the win.
The defeat came on the heels of a heartbreaking one-point loss to crosstown rival Harlan County, and Parks acknowledged his team’s frustration.
“This is a game we should’ve won, and we didn’t. And I felt like last night was a game we should’ve won, and we didn’t,” he said. “You have two choices: You can either quit, or you can pull your britches up and get to work a little bit more. We’re going to go for the second one.
“They’re pretty down. But sometimes, when you win basketball games that you shouldn’t, I’m not sure that’s a good thing — it sends the wrong message. And sometimes, when you lose games like this, it can motivate you. We’ll take it one game at a time and keep plugging along – that’s all we can do.”
The Dragons return to action Tuesday at Pineville, while Barbourville will travel to Leslie County.
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Brandon Osborne scored 17 points to lead the Dragons to a 52-47 victory in the junior varsity game.
Jordan Dupar and Trent McKenzie added 14 and 13 points, respectively, for Harlan. Brandon Huff scored seven, and Andrew Saylor contributed one.
Barbourville was led by Tate Carter with 11 points and Austin Taylor with 10.
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Tanner Moore 5-13 2-4 12, Brentley Perry 3-7 1-2 7, Jacob Rose 2-4 1-2 5, Wade Liford 3-6 0-1 6, Jason Mills 7-15 11-13 25, Alex Peyton 1-5 2-2 4, Austin Eldridge 1-3 0-0 3, Tate Carter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-53 17-24 62.
Noah Busroe 0-1 0-0 0, Leighton Piper 4-9 0-1 8, Manny Davis 4-7 5-6 13, Tyler Miller 4-13 0-0 8, Aaron Simpson 7-14 2-2 17, Caleb Hogue 1-3 0-0 2, Drew Parks 4-10 0-0 11, Jordan Dupar 0-1 0-0 0, Brandon Osborne 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-58 7-9 59.
Barbourville6 15 20 14 7 62
Harlan13 15 17 10 4 59
3-point goals: Barbourville 1-11 (Eldridge 1-3, Perry 0-1, Mills 0-2, Peyton 0-2, Moore 0-3), Harlan 4-12 (Parks 3-7, Simpson 1-3, Hogue 0-1, Davis 0-1). Rebounds: Barbourville 31 (Mills 8), Harlan 42 (Simpson 12). Assists: Barbourville 5 (Moore 2), Harlan 11 (Hogue 7). Turnovers: Barbourville 14, Harlan 16. Fouled out: Harlan (Simpson, Miller).