Green Dragons celebrate Senior Night with 23 3s in win over Knox


Jon Dickenson

Harlan senior guard Kaleb McLendon hit nine 3-pointers and scored 35 points in the Green Dragons’ 107-83 win Thursday over visiting Knox Central.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

For a group of seniors that helped transform the Harlan basketball program, it was a fitting farewell in their final home game. Long known for their run-and-gun style and passion for 3-pointers, the Dragons knocked off Knox Central 107-83 on Thursday and set school school records for 3-pointers (23) and 3-point attempts (68) while ranking third in both in Kentucky High School Athletic Association records.
“I didn’t realize it was that many, but at some point coach (Paul) Hearld said we had made 23 3-pointers and then I realized we had only taken 3s and not many 2s,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said. “I’m not sure what the percentage was, but it was a fun game.”
Senior guard Kaleb McLendon led the 3-point onslaught while breaking out of a recent slump as he hit nine treys and poured in 35 points as the Dragons improved to 23-5.
“We needed him to get out of that little slump,” Akal said. “I tell him all the time that everyone goes through that. I think Steph Curry has the longest streak of misses in the history of the NBA. If he can miss some, anyone can. I hope he’s working himself out of it.”
Eighth-grade guard Trenton Cole, with 22 points, and freshman guard Dylan Cox, with 12, also played big roles in the win. Will Austin had 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Junior guards Brayden Mills and Jacob Smith led the 4-22 Panthers with 24 and 20 points, respectively. Sophomore guard Austin Bargo added 18, and freshman forward Trevor Jordan came off the bench to add 12.
“I was a little frustrated because we gave up 83 points and I didn’t think we should have done that,” Akal said, “but this is our third game in three days. We had that huge game at HC on Tuesday, then we traveled to Hindman last night. To get a win here on Senior Night is a testament to how hard these guys have worked.”
Jaedyn Gist, Austin and McLendon were honored before the game, along with reserve guard Cameren Maples. Harlan has made four straight trips to the All “A” Classic state tournament and qualified for the 13th Region Tournament each of the past six years.
“They’ve had a great career,” Akal said. “Kaleb, Will and Jaedyn are guys I would have loved to have played with when I played. They are tough kids who bring it every day. They always play hard, and they play together and love each other. I would have loved to play with those three guys, and that’s the biggest compliment I can give them.”
Harlan closes its regular-season schedule Saturday at South Laurel. Knox Central plays at Tates Creek on Saturday.


Harlan freshman guard Dylan Cox put up a 3-pointer in the Dragons’ 107-83 win Thursday over visiting Knox Central. Harlan hit 23 3-pointers and attempted 68, both among the highest in Kentucky history. (Jon Dickenson)