Dragons’ 9-game win streak ends in Pikeville Invitational finals


Jon Dickenson

Harlan guard Kyler McLendon scored 29 points Thursday as the Dragons fell to Pikeville 76-63 in the Pikeville Invitational finals.

One of the longest winning streaks to start a season in Harlan basketball history ended Thursday in the finals of the Pikeville Invitational Tournament as the host Panthers avenged an earlier 12-point loss with a 76-63 victory.
Senior guard Rylee Samons, one of the state’s top-rated players, led the 5-2 Panthers with 29 points. Junior guard Eli Johnson added 22.
The 9-1 Green Dragons were led by junior guard Kyler McLendon with 23 points and senior forward Jaedyn Gist with 14 points.
Pikeville built a 42-30 halftime lead as Harlan struggled with a rare off night shooting the ball, missing 13 of 17 attempts from beyond the 3-point line.
The Panthers led by 12 early in the third quarter when Harlan reeled off eight unanswered points sparked by two baskets each from Kyler McLendon and Gist. Samons turned the momentum back in Pikeville’s favor with a three-point play followed by a 3-pointer as Pikeville took a 56-44 lead into the fourth quarter.
Unlike their previous win over Pikeville and last night’s semifinal win over Bracken County, the Dragons were unable to make a fourth-quarter comeback. Samons and Heath Jarrell pushed the lead to 18. Pikeville led by as many as 20 points before Dylan Cox and Connor Daniels each hit 3-pointers in a late Harlan run.
The Green Dragons connected on 23 of 63 shot attempts, including a 9-of-31 effort from 3-point range. They were also eight of 15 from the line.
Harlan will return to action next week in the Dan Swartz Classic at Bath County High School. The Dragons will play Bishop Brossart in the first round on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
Pikeville (76) — Eli Johnson 22, Rylee Samons 29, Charlie Fitzer 12, Josh Hughes 5, Heath Jarrell 4, Ian Onkst 4.
Harlan (63) — Kyler McLendon 23, Kaleb McLendon 9, Trenton Cole 1, Jaedyn Gist 14, Will Austin 5, Dylan Cox 6, Connor Daniels 3.