Harlan ended a six-game losing streak with its first win since the WYMT Mountain Classic and clinched at least a share of the third seed for the upcoming 52nd District Tournament.
Senior guard Ryan Clem and junior center Robbie Curtis scored 28 and 22 points, respectively, as the Dragons improved to 10-10 overall and 5-5 in the district.
Stephen Brown added 12 points for Harlan.
Harlan outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 35-21. Curtis led the Green Dragons with 16.
"He told us he was going to get at least 15 before the game," said Harlan coach Casey Lester. "We've got to find out some way for him to keep doing that every game.
"Clem also helped out on the boards. It was an all-around pretty good game, from our starters to our subs."
Middlesboro coach Bill Jones said rebounding was a crucial statistic.
"Curtis and them ate us up on the boards," he said.
Daniel Griffin hit a trio of 3-pointers and Miller scored five points as the Yellow Jackets jumped out to an 18-10 advantage with 5:25 to play in the first quarter.
"We gave up too many easy shots. We weren't getting back on defense," said Lester. "We called timeout and switched defenses. I felt like that changed the game at the end of the quarter and the whole second quarter."
Clem scored four points while Casey Huff, Stephen Brown and Curtis each added baskets as Harlan used a 10-2 run to tie the game at 20-20 at the 2:36 mark.
After Middlesboro took a three-point lead, Brown and Clem each scored as the Dragons took the lead for good with 1:11 remaining.
Clem's pass to Zach Goins for a basket allowed Harlan to take a 26-23 advantage into the second quarter.
"We came out and did what we had to do, and that was push the ball and shoot the ball. We got a good lead, and I think it went to our heads," said Jones.
A layup by Casey Earls trimmed the Harlan to one, but the Dragons got two baskets each from Huff and Brown to build a 36-27 lead with 3:45 left in the first half.
A 3-pointer and basket by Clem helped Harlan take a 43-31 lead into the break.
Harlan, which shot 62 percent (33 of 53) for the game, hit 20 of 33 shots from the field for 61 percent in the first half.
"I thought we played pretty good defense except the first four or five minutes of the first quarter," said Lester.
Middlesboro outscored the Green Dragons 21-19 in the third quarter as Miller powered the Jackets with 16 points. Curtis scored eight points and Clem nailed a pair of 3-pointers for Harlan.
"Miller hit some unbelievable shots there in the third quarter falling away," Lester said.
The Dragons took a 62-52 advantage into the fourth period.
Clem and Curtis each scored as the lead grew to 14 early in the final quarter. Miller and Casey Earls each scored four points as Middlesboro used a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to 70-64 with 2:55 left.
The Yellow Jackets tried to come back with 3-pointers but missed their last six as Harlan pulled away. Clem hit seven of eight free throws and Curtis added a couple of baskets in the closing minutes.
For the Dragons, the win should provide a much-needed confidence boost.
"It was a huge win," Lester said. "It was something we probably needed to boost our morale a little bit. I was hoping to come in and get a win and put us in the other direction to play a little better."
"I thought Harlan executed very well," said Jones. "They used their senior leaders and Clem stepped up with 28 points. Harlan deserved to win. They were the better ball club tonight."
Harlan returns to action Tuesday at home against Pineville, while Middlesboro (8-16, 4-6) plays host to Whitley County.
Kipper House, a freshman guard, scored 12 points and Nick Smith added 10 as Middlesboro defeated the Green Dragons 52-30 in the junior varsity game.
Michael Sulfridge contributed seven points for Middlesboro (7-7).
Allen Hensley led Harlan (1-13) with eight points. Arliss Wilson followed with seven. Ronnie Curtis scored six. Tyler Frazier added five. Derek Sheffield tossed in four.
Casey Huff 4-11 0-0 9, Ryan Clem 9-13 7-8 28, Jon Graham 2-5 0-0 5, Stephen Brown 6-8 0-4 12, Robbie Curtis 10-13 2-4 22, Zach Goins 2-2 0-0 4, Derek Sheffield 0-1 1-2 1. Totals: 33-53 10-18 81.
Stuart Miller 11-26 7-8 31, Daniel Griffin 3-7 0-0 9, Tyler Hatmaker 3-13 2-2 8, Casey Earls 4-7 1-2 9, Bart Short 2-2 0-0 4, Josh Treece 1-2 2-2 4, Nick Smith 0-3 0-0 0, Will Harrison 1-4 1-2 3. Totals: 25-64 13-16 68.
Harlan 26 17 19 19 81
Middlesboro 23 8 21 16 68
3-point goals: Harlan 5-12 (Clem 3-5, Graham 1-2, Huff 1-5), Middlesboro 5-33 (Griffin 3-6, Miller 2-13, Earls 0-2, Smith 0-2, Hatmaker 0-10). Rebounds: Harlan 35 (Curtis 16), Middlesboro 21 (Hatmaker, Short 4). Assists: Harlan 16 (Huff 5), Middlesboro 6 (Miller, Hatmaker 2). Turnovers: Harlan 23, Middlesboro 14. Fouled out: Middlesboro (Hatmaker, Short).