MIDDLESBORO — Against the rest of the world, the Harlan Green Dragons are among the most improved basketball teams in eastern Kentucky, assured of only their second winning season since 2000 as they enter the final week of the regular season.
But against their closest rivals in the 52nd District, the Green Dragons are again in the cellar, falling to 0-7 against 52nd District competition following a 71-59 loss at Middlesboro in a rare Sunday afternoon game. The Dragons fell to 14-10 overall with all their losses coming against only four opponents — three each to Bell County and Barbourville and two each against Harlan County and Middlesboro.
The game followed a similar pattern to a 10-point loss Friday to the Jackets as Harlan fell behind early and spent the rest of the night trying to catch up. The Dragons were outscored 23-11 after one quarter and played the Jackets even the rest of the way.
“We’re getting the effort and playing hard, but we missed a lot of shots,” Harlan coach David Parks said.
Middlesboro (8-17 overall, 3-3 district) had three in double figures, led by senior forward Austin Poindexter with 23 points. Guards Brandon Hale and Donnie Foister added 17 and 14 points, respectively.
“We’re starting to click in the places we wanted to,” Middlesboro coach Russell Thompson said. “We’re getting good leadership from Poindexter and Foister, and Hale is stepping up. We’re getting help from several people now and everyone understands their roles.”
Harlan had a couple of different players in its starting lineup after junior forward Tyler Miller left the team during Saturday’s game against Middlesboro and sophomore guard Drew Parks was unable to play due to an infected finger on his shooting hand.
Senior forward Manny Davis capitalized on his opportunity with a 21-point effort in a rare start. Sophomore guard Caleb Hogue followed his 23-point performance Saturday with a 15-point effort on Sunday.
“Manny played well, and he’s capable of doing that,” Parks said. “I thought a lot of our kids stepped up. We played a lot of young kids. They just have to step up and help us out. I think they can. I’m not the least bit discouraged.”
Harlan travels to Oneida Baptist on Monday and closes its regular season schedule Friday at Corbin in a girls/boys doubleheader.
Middlesboro overcame a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to edge Harlan 56-55 in the junior varsity game.
Sophomore forward Cody Smith hit nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback, scoring 18 points for the 3-9 Jackets. Sophomore guards Matt Mike and Josh Buttery added 16 and 14 points, respectively. Jarred Gullett, a sophomore center, contributed eight points.
Sophomore forward Brandon Huff scored 13 points and junior guard Zach Hensley added 11 to lead the 10-7 Dragons. Jordan Dupar tossed in seven. Trent McKenzie and Brandon Osborne scored six each. Austin WIlson added five. Tanner Parks scored three. Prescott Saylor and Tyler Carmical contributed two each.
Noah Busroe 4-7 0-0 8, Caleb Hogue 6-12 2-4 15, Aaron Simpson 2-12 0-0 4, Manny Davis 8-13 5-9 21, Jordan Dupar 1-4 0-1 2, Leighton Piper 2-4 1-2 5, Brandon Osborne 0-1 0-0 0, Austin Wilson 2-2 0-0 4, Trent McKenzie 0-0 0-0 0, Tanner Parks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-55 8-16 59.
Brandon Hale 7-11 1-1 17, Donnie Foister 6-13 1-2 14, Austin Poindexter 8-13 6-9 23, Major Edwards 2-4 0-0 4, Tyler Prater 2-3 0-0 4, Justin Miracle 2-8 0-1 5, Tyshon Kinkade 2-3 0-0 4. Totals: 29-55 8-13 71.
Harlan11 14 20 14 — 59
Middlesboro23 13 18 17 — 71
3-point goals: Harlan 1-7 (Hogue 1-3, Simpson 0-1, Osborne 0-1, Piper 0-2), Middlesboro 5-14 (Hale 2-3, Poindexter 1-2, Foister 1-3, Miracle 1-6). Rebounds: Harlan 35 (Simpson 14, Hogue 9, Davis 5, Busroe 4, Dupar 2, Wilson 1), Middlesboro 25 (Edwards 10, Poindexter 6, Kinkade 5, Prater 3, Foister 1). Turnovers: Harlan 10, Middlesboro 5. Fouled out: Harlan (Davis), Middlesboro (Prater, Hale).