Green Dragons coast past Middlesboro in district opener


Danny Vaughn

Middlesboro junior center Jay Tyler West worked inside for a shot in district action Wednesday against Harlan. The visiting Dragons rolled to a 65-42 victory.

MIDDLESBORO – Coming off a 13th Region All “A” Classic championship game win a night earlier, the Harlan Green Dragons outscored Middlesboro in every quarter on Wednesday and rolled to a 65-42 district victory.

Harlan (5-0 overall, 1-0 district) jumped out to a 23-14 advantage and was never threatened.

“I thought we jumped on them pretty quick,” said Harlan coach Derrick Akal. “I thought we established the defense early in the game, but Middlesboro continued to fight. You’ve got to give them credit.”

The Dragons were once again led by juniors Jordan Akal and Jaedyn Gist. Akal finished with 27 points while Gist scored 23 points and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.

The Yellow Jackets were led in scoring by Ethan Barton’s 12 points. The senior guard was the only player in double figures for MHS.

Gist scored the first five points of the game. Two 3-pointers by Akal and a putback by Will Austin allowed Harlan to take a 13-2 advantage with 5:14 left in the first quarter.

Middlesboro got treys by Bryson Barnard, Eric Helton and Trey Kyle to pull within nine after one period.

Akal scored five points to open the second quarter. Middlesboro missed it first seven field shots in the period. Baskets by Austin and Akal gave Harlan a 34-21 lead. The Dragons led 36-24 at the break.

A Barton basket at the 5:13 mark of the third quarter made it 42-30 before Harlan reeled off seven unanswered points and led 54-32 after three quarters.

Two baskets by Jay West allowed Middlesboro to open the fourth period with a 7-1 spurt.

Harlan got a 3-pointer from Akal and a three-point play from Gist to coast to the win.

“We were able to get a 7-0 spurt or an 8-0 run, but we didn’t play our best and I don’t think Middlesboro played their best. We were lucky to come out and get a win on the road,” added Akal.

The Yellow Jackets, losers of seven straight, missed one of eight free throws and had just one basket in the final 4:13 of the game.

The Dragons will return to action tonight, playing host to Leslie County. Harlan entertains Bell County on Monday and visits Lynn Camp on Tuesday.

Middlesboro (2-9, 0-4) plays host to Bell County on Friday. The Jackets will travel to Williamsburg on Wednesday.