A patient offense and a stingy defense helped the Harlan Green Dragons overcome a notable size disadvantage in their home opener Thursday.
The Dragons hassled visiting Rye Cove, Va., into 16 first-half turnovers as they built a comfortable lead and cruised to a 73-41 victory.
“That’s one of the things we have to do. We have to play harder than everybody, because obviously we don’t have any size,” Harlan coach David Parks said. “We have to make up for it with hustle and effort. We have to get the non-talent plays. Anything that is not talent-related, like blocking out or getting on the floor, we have to do. I think for the most part, we did.”
The visiting Eagles exploited their advantage in the post early, getting a couple of baskets from Holton Carter and one from Chase Love to stay within a point midway through the first quarter. But Harlan (2-0) closed the period with a 19-2 run that included seven points off the bench by Robbie Curry and five each by Drew Parks and Trent McKenzie.
“(Curry) did great. He shot the ball real well, and he’s capable of doing that every night,” Parks said. “He’s a wonderful kid, a hard worker, and I was glad to see him benefit from his hard work tonight.”
Baskets by Killian Ledford, Noah Busroe and Parks put Harlan ahead 32-8 a minute into the second quarter before Trey Pennington’s layup ended a drought of more than four minutes for Rye Cove. Parks drained a pair of 3-pointers later in the quarter as the Dragons continued to build their lead to 48-22 at halftime.
Ethan Morton came off the bench to score six in the third quarter as Harlan extended the margin to 61-26. After shooting a respectable 10-for-17 in the first half, the Eagles made just two of 11 shots in the third quarter.
The Dragons got a boost from another reserve player in the fourth quarter as freshman Cade Barnes scored six points.
Parks paced Harlan with 15 points, and Ledford added 13. Pennington scored a game-high 17 to pace the Eagles.
Parks was also pleased with Harlan’s 13 assists, led by Busroe and McKenzie with four apiece.
“We passed the ball well, and we had more kids contributing tonight,” Parks said. “The kids I know are capable of being good shooters consistently, they shot well tonight, and some other kids stepped in as well.”
Harlan returns to action Saturday at Jenkins before playing host to Middlesboro in the second game of a girls-boys district doubleheader Tuesday.
Cade Barnes scored 14 points and Caleb Adkins added 10 to lead the Dragons to a 50-14 victory in the junior varsity game.
Carter Barnes and Logan Taylor scored nine each for Harlan (2-0), and Tate Bryson added eight.
Rye Cove was led by Matthew Hardin with six and Emmanuel Burchell with five.