Commodores edge Harlan in WYMT Mountain Classic semifinals


John Henson

Perry Central guard Rydge Beverly scored a team-high 17 points on Friday as the Commdores edged Harlan 55-54 in the WYMT Mountain Classic semifinals.

By John Henson, Managing Editor


HINDMAN — Harlan turned a 13-point deficit in the second quarter into an eight-point lead in the third but couldn’t put the game away down the stretch and continued a drought for boys teams from Harlan County in the WYMT Mountain Classic with a 55-54 loss to Perry Central on Friday in the semifinals at Knott Central High School.
Sophomore guard Rydge Beverly scored 17 and junior guard Tyler Day added 15 as the Commodores improved to 3-1 heading into the tournament finals on Saturday against defending champ Knox Central, an overtime winner over Breathitt County in the opening semifinal game.
The 1-1 Dragons were led by senior guard Jordan Akal with 24 points and junior forward Jaedyn Gist with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“This is our second tough game and only the second game we’ve played and we haven’t found our offensive rhythm yet, which will take us some time,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said. “I’m still proud of how hard they played. They got down 10-12 early and fought back into the game. We had a couple of turnovers and missed layups that hurt us. If we hadn’t done that, I think we would have won the game.”
The lead changed hands several times in the fourth quarter before a pair of offensive rebounds by the Commodores led to buckets by junior forward Dylan Knight as Perry built a four-point lead.
Akal scored on consecutive possessions to tie the game at 51 with 1:44 left. Day hit a jumper in the lane and Lanse McKenzie scored inside as the Commodores went up by four again.
Perry’s Landon Napier missed at the line with 17.2 seconds left to keep Harlan alive. Kaleb McLendon drew a foul on a 3 with 6.4 seconds left and hit all three free throws. Napier missed two more chances at the line, including a second bonus after another Perry offensive board. McLendon missed on a 3-pointer from halfcourt at the buzzer.
“We’re not in game shape and in high-intensity games like this it shows itself,” Akal said. “There were a couple of rebounds that we didn’t get
Harlan will play Breathitt County in the tournament’s third-place game on Saturday at 3 p.m.