Dragons shatter century mark, coast past Red Bird in All ‘A’ quarterfinals

By John Henson, Managing Editor





After three competitive games to start the 13th Region All “A” quarterfinal round Saturday, the host Harlan Green Dragons won in blowout fashion to earn the fourth and final spot in the semifinals.
Everyone on the roster saw extensive action against an outmanned Red Bird squad that was missing three starters and several reserves. They were all dorm students who hadn’t yet arrived back to campus, leaving the Cardinals with no chance to compete against the two-time defending champs, who rolled to a 100-35 victory in what may have been the biggest mismatch in the 32-year history of the tournament.
The Dragons sat back in a 2-3 zone the entire game and left open shooters on the perimeter. Harlan rarely pushed the tempo on offense, settling for 38 3-pointers in the 89 shots they attempted, thanks in large part to a 66-17 advantage on the boards.
“We found out before the game they were missing some players and then I saw all the seventh- and eighth-graders out there,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said. “I think it’s disrespectful not to go out there and play, but at the same time you don’t want to embarrass a bunch of kids or get anyone hurt. Everyone got a chance to shoot and everyone had a chance to get their names in the paper.”
Senior guard Jordan Akal scored 25 points to lead the Dragons, even though he and the other starters played only one quarter as Harlan built a 44-10 lead. Johann Gist and Tristan Burgan came off the bench to add 11 points each for the 10-5 Dragons. John Mark Bryson contributed 10 points, all in the second quarter.
Austin Osborne, with 19 points, and Juan Bynum, with 16, were the only regular Red Bird starters in uniform and teamed for all of the Cardinals’ points as they fell to 2-9 on the season.
Akal hit nine shots in the opening quarter, including seven 3-pointers, as Harlan scored the game’s first 22 points before Bynum broke Red Bird’s drought with a 3-pointer at the 4:03 mark. Kaleb McLendon, Will Austin, Jaedyn Gist and Akal had dunks in the final two minutes of the period as the Dragons built a 44-10 lead.
Bryson hit four straight shots in the second quarter, including two treys, and Johann Gist connected on five of seven shots as the Dragons extended their advantage to 69-18 by halftime.
Tristan Burgan and Cameren Maples each had three baskets as Harlan outscored Red Bird 18-14 in the third quarter and built an 87-30 lead going into the final period. Osborne led the Cardinals with three baskets in the quarter.
Nate Montanaro, Burgan and Kelson Napier each had two baskets in the fourth quarter with Burgan helping Harlan reach 100 as he scored with 58 seconds remaining.
Harlan will play Lynn Camp in the second semifinals on Monday at 7:30. Middlesboro will take on Barbourville at 6 p.m. The championship game is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m.
After trailing for much of the first three quarters, Middlesboro outscored Pineville 19-10 in the fourth period to rally for a 55-49 victory.
The Lions missed 11 of 12 shots from the field in the decisive fourth quarter.
Sophomore guard Cayden Grigsby and senior forward Jay West scored 20 points each to lead the 6-8 Jackets.
Freshman guard Sawyer Thompson paced the 9-8 Lions with 22 points. Junior forward Evan Biliter added 10.
Middlesboro (55) — Cayden Grigsby 20, Jordan Shertz 3, Jay West 20, Caleb Bogonko 3, Trey Kyle 2, Brayden Barnard 2, Bryce Bowling 4, Richie Logan 1.
Pineville (49) — Sawyer Thompson 22, Eli Thompson 6, Ashton Burns 4, Evan Biliter 10, Ashton Moser 0, Dylan Abner 2, Sam Caldwell 5.

Middlesboro 10 12 14 19 — 55
Pineville 13 14 12 10 — 49
Barbourville’s Jordan Collins hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 30 seconds and Williamsburg missed twice in the closing seconds as the Tigers held on for a 65-64 victory
Collins, a senior guard, scored 25 points to lead the 8-2 Tigers. Matthew Warren added 18.
Martin Shannon and Conner Lay scored 17 each to lead the 9-8 Jackets. Williamsburg star guard Micah Steely was held to eight points, including only three in the first half as Barbourville raced to an early double-digit lead before the Jackets pulled even at 32-all by halftime.
Barbourville (65) — Ty Clark 5, Matthew Warren 18, Ethan Smith 6, Travis Scott 5, Jordan Collins 25, Jacob Lundy 2, Tanner Smith 4.
Williamsburg (64) —Micah Steely 8, Dre Ellis 5, Evan Ellis 7, Martin Shannon 17, Conner Lay 17, Henry Bowling 4, Cade Hatcher 6.

Williamsburg 21 11 13 19 — 64
Barbourville 16 16 10 23 — 65

The tandem of Micah Engle and Gavin Allen had another big night, teaming for 47 points, as Lynn Camp pulled away in the second half for a 73-64 win over Jackson County.
Engle scored 28 to lead the 10-4 Wildcats. Allen and Duane Sparks added 19 and 14 points, respectively.
Luke Adkins was one of four Generals in double figures with 17 points. Jude Lakes added 15, while Colby Bales scored 11 and Trent Hammons tossed in 10 for the 7-4 Generals.
Lynn Camp (73) — Gavin Allen 19, Micah Engle 28, Duane Sparks 14, Maison Prater 6, Landon White 4, Nick Sanders 2.
Jackson County (64) — Jude Lakes 15, Luke Adkins 17, Tydus Summers 3, Andrew Madden 5, Trent Hammons 10, Colby Bales 11, Carter Cunagin 3.

Jackson County 19 14 13 18 — 64
Lynn Camp 20 14 18 21 — 73

Red Bird’s Austin Osborne raced down the court in Saturday’s game against Harlan in the 13th Region All “A” Classic. (Chris Jones)