With the visiting Middlesboro Yellow Jackets dominating the boards and getting comfortable in halfcourt sets, Harlan coach David Parks decided it was time to try something new with his Dragons trailing 11-7 going into the second quarter.
Harlan turned up the pressure defensively, trapping the visiting Jackets into 11 second-quarter turnovers to turn the momentum in the Dragons’ favor. Harlan outscored Middlesboro 18-5 in the period on the way to a 60-31 victory.
“We didn’t start out like a ball of fire, so we tried to do something to change things up a little bit,” Parks said. “We were able to create some problems for them. The run-and-jump bothered them, and we were able to create some turnovers. We weren’t shooting well, so we had to do something.”
Paul Stapleton started the comeback with a basket off a turnover. Drew Parks followed with a 3-pointer off another turnover to put Harlan ahead to stay. Parks added two more treys later in the quarter as part of a 13-point performance.
“He kept us around for a while, then some other kids started to do things,” Parks said of his senior guard and son. “We don’t have anyone who can carry us all night, so we have to take turns.”
Freshman forward Kilian Ledford, who led the 4-0 Dragons with 15 points, took his turn in the fourth quarter as he hit four of five shots to turn the game into a rout.
Drake Thomas, a freshman guard, led the 1-5 Jackets with eight points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to help Middlesboro take an early 8-6 lead. Christian Hubbard’s basket to close the period pushed the lead to four.
Parks’ second 3-pointer capped an 8-0 run as the Dragons moved ahead by four. Two free throws by Noah Busroe, a basket by Trent McKenzie and Parks’ third trey extended Harlan’s advantage to seven. Stapleton hit three of four free throws as Harlan took a 25-16 lead into the break.
Middlesboro had nine more turnovers in the third quarter as Harlan built a 46-25 advantage by the end of the period. Busroe and Robbie Curry led the Dragons with two baskets each.
Ledford took over in the fourth quarter, scoring the first eight point of the period as Harlan took its biggest lead at 29 points.
Harlan returns to action in the Bowman Memorial Tournament at Lynn Camp. The Green Dragons will play Whitley County on Thursday at 7 p.m. Middlesboro plays at Harlan County on Friday as part of a girls/boys doubleheader.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134