Dragons unable to overcome cold shooting in first-round All ‘A’ loss to Martin


Jeff Drummond

Harlan senior center Will Austin went up for a shot against Martin County on Thursday in the state All “A” Classic. Austin scored 16 points and pulled down 18 rebounds in the Dragons’ 50-49 loss.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

In winning 19 of their first 21 games this season, the Harlan Green Dragons have shown they can be exceptional shooters, rebounders and defenders.
In a first-round game Thursday afternoon at the All “A” Classic state tournament at Eastern Kentucky University, the Dragons were exceptional on the boards with a 47-28 advantage and good on defense (limiting Martin County to 40 percent shooting), but could not overcome a bad shooting night in a 50-49 loss.
Down by eight late in the third quarter, Martin County took the lead with a 12-0 run. Two Will Austin free throws with 3:15 left put Harlan back up 46-45 before Brayden McKenzie scored inside, then added throws a second later. Kyler McLendon cut the deficit to one with two free throws with 2:27 left, but Dray Duff pushed the lead back to three with two free throws. Jaedyn Gist’s basket with 19 seconds left pulled Harlan within one. After Jacob Sturgill missed at the line with 14 seconds left, Harlan had a chance to win but Austin’s jumper with three seconds to play was off the mark.
Duff, a junior guard, scored 15 points to lead the 19-2 Cardinals, who have won 17 straight since losing to Breathtt County on Dec. 6 at the WYMT Mountain Classic. Hale, also a junior guard, added 12 points.
Austin led the 19-3 Dragons with 16 points and 18 rebounds. Gist had 14 points and nine rebounds. McLendon added 13 points.
Harlan shot 29 percent from the field, hitting 19 of 65 attempts, and missed on 32 of 37 attempts (14 percent) from beyond the 3-point line
Martin County will play Evangel Christian on Friday at 5 p.m. in the All “A” quarterfinals. Harlan travels to Bell County on Tuesday for a girls/boys district doubleheader.

Harlan’s Dylan Cox battled for a loose ball in action from the state All “A” Classic on Thursday in Richmond. The Green Dragons fell 50-49. (Jeff Drummond)


Harlan senior forward Jaedyn Gist took a moment to reflect after the Green Dragons suffered a one-point loss to Martin County in the All “A” Classic state tournament on Thursday. Gist was a starter on four straight Harlan teams that qualified for the small school state tournament. (Jeff Drummond)