CORBIN — Defending regional champions usually get a lot more respect than the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets received coming into the 2016 season, but then again no defending champ in the last 40 years or so ever lost as much as the Jackets did in the offseason.
With no starters or key reserves returning from a team that won both the regional All “A” Classic and the 13th Region Tournament titles, the Jackets were picked 15th out of 17 teams in the region in preseason polls and played like it in losing 10 of their first 11 games.
The Jackets may have turned the corner in time to defend their All “A” title, putting together their best performance of the season to upset Harlan 84-78 in double overtime in the opening round of the tournament Tuesday at Lynn Camp High School.
“We’ve improved a lot, but the thing people don’t realize is that we get a week, maybe two (after football), before we’re thrust into action,” Williamsburg coach Patrick Robinson said. “These guys are all new. Nobody on the team got any significant action last year. It’s a work in progress. I thought we played a lot better against Jellico (Tenn.) on Saturday and we played even better tonight. We were taking the ball to the hole with some confidence.”
Williamsburg (2-10) placed four in double figures, led by sophomore guard Tanner Boggs with 23 points. Junior forward Hagen Hawn added 18 points. Eighth-grade guard Dalton Ponder scored 16. Sophomore guard Alec Poore contributed 11.
Williamsburg overcame a three-point deficit in the final seconds of regulation and a one-point deficit in the final seconds of the first overtime. The Jackets trailed by three early in the second overtime before reeling off 12 unanswered points to run away with the game.
“We didn’t play at all. I don’t know if we were flat or if it was nerves. A lot of these kids get really nervous before we play,” Harlan coach David Parks said. “Williamsburg played well, and our defense wasn’t very good. We tried to run and jump some and did OK, then the Boggs kid got hot, and we couldn’t leave him.”
Senior guard Caleb Hogue hit four of six shots in the third quarter as part of a 21-point performance to lead Harlan as the Dragons wiped out a five-point halftime deficit and appeared to be in control with a five-point lead midway through the fourth period.
Ponder hit a 3-pointer and Poore added a jumper as the Jackets pulled even. Two free throws by Hogue gave Harlan a three-point lead with 25.1 seconds left. The Dragons still had two fouls to give before the bonus when Ponder hit the tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation.
“We did hit some clutch shots,” Robinson said. “They were trying to foul us at the end of regulation, and I think he realized that. The guy missed him and he made the shot. We made some big shots and made some big plays.”
“We tried to foul at the end of regulation, but it wasn’t called,” Parks said. “They played well and deserved to win. We didn’t deserve to win.”
Kilian Ledford added 18 points for the 11-7 Dragons. Trent McKenzie and Drew Parks contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively.
“The thing I’m upset with is that we did a lot of one-on-one stuff tonight, and we’re not good enough to do that,” Parks said. “We have to play as a team. We can’t beat anybody doing that.”
Hogue scored off a drive to put Harlan up by one late in the first overtime. Ledford missed a chance at the line to extend the lead, then Hawn hit one of two free throws with 6.2 seconds left to force a second overtime after Hogue’s shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
Hogue picked up his fifth foul with the Dragons up by three in the second overtime. Williamsburg responded with 12 straight points, sparked by baskets from Brown, Hawn and Caleb Rose.
Harlan returns to action Monday at Red Bird.
Up by six points going into the fourth quarter, Pineville outscored tournament favorite Barbourville 28-7 in the final period on the way to a rout of the Tigers.
Pineville shot countless layups, more as the game progressed, as the Tigers shot and missed 3-pointers, leading to runouts for the Lions.
The Mountain Lions placed four in double figures, led by 18 points off the bench from Josh Lawson. Trent Lefevers added 17 points. Tucker Woolum and Cody Carnes contributed 16 and 13 points, respectively.
Senior guard Brent Perry carried the Barbourville offense with 27 points.
Pineville will play Williamsburg on Thursday at 7:30 in the semifinals. Lynn Camp will meet Oneida Baptist in the opening game at 6 p.m. The championship is set for Friday at 7 p.m.
Pineville (82) — Jalen Byrd 9, Cody Carnes 13, Trent Lefevers 17, Tucker Woolum 16, Will Adams 0, Josh Lawson 18, Joe Simpson 4, Daniel Watts 3, Mikey Long 2.
Barbourville (53) — Brent Perry 27, Markelle Turner 8, Zach Deaton 5, James Witt 9, Trenton Schall 4.
Reach John Henson at 606-909-4134