Green Dragons end three-game skid with victory at Pineville


John Henson

PIneville guard Keann Fuson worked against Harlan’s Jordan Akal in Friday’s game. Akal scored 33 in the Green Dragons’ 69-54 victory. Fuson led PIneville with 20 points.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

PINEVILLE — One night after being eliminated in the state All “A” Classic, the Harlan Green Dragons made a stop in Pineville on Friday on the way home and halted a three-game losing streak with a 69-54 victory.
“It was good to get a ‘W.” We just got off the bus to play and started a little slow, but we’ve had some slow starts the last three or four games,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said.
Pineville stayed close for two and a half quarters, trailing by only four midway through the third quarter when standout junior guard Jordan Akal hit a jumper and then a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions as the lead grew to 10 going into the final period. Akal finished with 33 points to lead the 11-5 Green Dragons.
“He finally got loose. I thought once he got loose, he was better and quicker, but he’s still limping around a little bit,” said Akal of his son, who has been slowed by an injury the last couple of weeks.
After missing all of his shots in the first half, junior guard Kaleb McLendon heated up in the second half in a 14-point performance. McLendon hit three straight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter after the Lions had pulled within eight.
“Kaleb is capable of doing that,” Akal said. “He may miss his first five, then hit five straight. I was glad to see him make some shots tonight.”
“Those were back-breakers for us,” PIneville coach Brad Levy said. “I told the kids they outrebound almost everyone they play, and that killed us over there last year. I was impressed with the fight we showed on the boards. They earned every rebound they got. They are just a little tougher than us and a little better.”
The Green Dragons battled foul trouble for much of the night as three starters were on the bench late in the second quarter with three fouls each.
Pineville trailed by only two, at 14-12, after one quarter, then briefly took the lead late in the half after Keann Fuson hit a 3-pointer and Evan Biliter scored off a steal. Akal had five points in a 9-1 run to close the half. Senior guard Trey Barnes added a basket and two free throws as he and Johann Gist provided a lift off the Harlan bench.
Fuson, a senior guard, led the 6-7 Lions with 20 points. BIliter scored 10.
The Lions recently returned from a 10-day quarantine and played for the second straight night after the break.
“This is something we can build on,” Levy said. “We’re disappointed in the result, but we can hang our hat on the effort and build off that.”
Harlan returns to action Tuesday at home against Clay County. Pineville plays host to Burgin on Saturday.
Devon Morris scored 15 points and Ashton Moser added 11 as Pineville won 45-41 in junior varsity action.
Johann Gist led Harlan (0-8) with 13 points. Matthew Pennington scored nine. Jared Moore tossed in eight. Darius Akal and John Bryson scored four each. Tristan Burgan added three.