Akal sets career high on Senior Night with 48 as Dragons break century mark


Chris Jones

Harlan guard Jordan Akal scored a career-high 48 points on Monday in the Dragon’ 101-57 Senior Night win over Red Bird.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Senior Night couldn’t have gone much better for the Harlan Green Dragons on Monday in a 101-57 of Red Bird, celebrating their three seniors while hitting 24 3-pointers in a game where they had a running clock a minute into the second half.
Johann Gist and John Mark Bryson scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, in starting roles for the first time this year.
“Senior Night is always big us. John Mark Bryson and Johann Gist haven’t played that much for us, so it was great for them get a chance to perform in front of their families and friends during their last game here was great,” Harlan coach Derrick Akal said. “They both finished in double figures and it was a good night for us, but now it’s time to prepare for the next game.”
Jordan Akal, a five-year starter, exploded for a career-high 48 points as he hit 11 3s and had a chance at 50 at the end when he was fouled on a 3-pointer with 8 seconds left. Akal missed the first shot, made the second and then appeared to miss the third on purpose, but he was unable to secure the rebound. Akal will finish his Harlan career as the second-leading scorer in school history, behind only 1995 Mr. Basketball Charles Thomas.
“He’s meant so much to me, the program, his teammates and the district,” Akal said of his son. “I was going to get him out of the game earlier, but (assistant) coach Hearld said to me that he’s earned it. I was worried about him getting hurt, but he came out healthy and I’m proud of him. He wanted (50). He may have wanted it too much, but 48 is good. The big thing is coming out injury free and with the win. These seniors have played in a lot of big games and accomplished so much.”
Senior forward Joel Manwill led the 2-18 Cardinals with 20 points. Mark Ngulunga and Felix Onusumba added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Harlan hit 13 of 31 shots in a fast-paced first quarter, building a 35-11 lead with the help of seven 3-pointers. The lead grew to 59-30 by halftime as Akal added three more 3s and Kyler McLendon had two.
Johann Gist led the Dragons in the third quarter two 3-pointers. Jaedyn Gist had two baskets as the Dragons took a 78-45 lead into the final period. Akal had five more baskets in the fourth period, including the final basket of the night 1:25 left that gave Harlan 100 points the second time this year. Harlan defeated Red Bird 100-35 on Jan. 8 in the All “A” Classic regional at Harlan.
Akal said the Dragons, who improved to 20-9, may add a game against Clay County later this week, but it wasn’t yet finalized. The Dragons drew the top seed in next week’s 52nd District Tournament and will play Middlesboro in the first round on Tuesday at Bell County High School.
The Harlan junior varsity team ended the season at 1-4 with a 44-38 loss Thursday at Letcher Central.
Higgins scored 10 to lead the Cougars. Bailey added nine, followed by McCool with eight, Adams with five, Dixon and Herrell with three each and Ramsey, Branham and Holbrook with two each.
Nate Montanaro led the Dragons with 10 points. Trent Cole tossed in eight. Dylan Cox and Cameren Maples each added five. Matthew Pennington scored four. Derek Pruitt, Tristan Burgan and Conner Daniels added two each.