A visitor from Virginia may have been just what the Harlan Green Dragons needed to shake off of a five-game losing streak.
Harlan (5-5) opened the season with four straight victories, beginning with Thomas Walker and Rye Cove, both of Virginia, then suffered five losses over the past eight days before bouncing back Friday with a 48-44 win over visiting Central, of Wise, Va.
The Dragons won despite digging an early 10-point hole and despite not having a field goal in the game’s last 10 minutes. Senior guard Robbie Curry hit four 3-pointers on the way to a 17-point night, helping the Dragons build a lead they were able to hang on to despite missing all three of their shots from the field in the final period.
“Robbie played well. He shot the ball well, and he’s capable of doing that,” Harlan coach David Parks said.
Curry’s big night saved the Dragons on a night they shot only 28 percent (11 of 39) from the field. Drew Parks and Kilian Ledford added 12 and 10 points, respectively, but they combined to hit only two of 14 shots from beyond the 3-point line.
“I don’t know what they ended up with, but Drew and Kilian struggled tonight,” Parks said, “but as long as somebody steps up I don’t care who scores. I just want to win. I don’t care who does what.”
Harlan won the game at the free throw line, hitting 20 of 26, compared to five of eight for Central. The Central coaches were hit with a pair of technicals as the Central fans spent much of the game screaming at the officials
Much like a night earlier, when they fell behind 8-0 at Harlan County, the Dragons watched Central race to a 10-0 advantage. The Dragons soon recovered, pulling to within two by the end of the period. Harlan outscored Central 15-5 in the second quarter and stayed ahead the entire second half despite several runs by the Warriors
“We started out in the zone, which is what we came to the conclusion we’ll have to play because we have so many matchup issues, but we were standing around, so I decided to play a man to man, and I think we played better from that point on,” Parks said.
Central hit only two of eight shots in the second quarter as the Dragons built a 29-21 lead at the break with the help of two 3-pointers by Curry and baskets from Ledford and Trent McKenzie.
Ledford had two baskets in the third quarter as Harlan stretched its lead to nine.
Matt Kennedy hit his third 3-pointer to cap a 7-1 run to open the fourth quarter as the Warriors pulled within three. Two free throws each by McKenzie and Parks gave the Dragons some breathing room, but Central would not go away. A basket by Daniel England cut the deficit to two with 21 seconds left. Parks put the game away when he hit two free throws with 13.5 second left, part of an eight-of-13 effort from the line in the fourth quarter by the Dragons.
England scored 14 to lead the 2-5 Warriors. Dalton Mullins added 11 points.
Harlan returns to action on Dec. 28 in a three-day round-robin tournament at Pineville. The Dragons will play five games in the three days with one game each day at Pineville, along with a game Dec. 28 at Rye Cove, Va., and a game Dec. 29 at home against Thomas Walker, Va.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134