WINTERSVILLE - The Indian Creek boys' basketball team went into halftime up 14-13 against visiting Harrison Central on Friday night.
Then things really slowed down as the Huskies were able to grind out an 11-6 advantage in the second half, including outscoring the home team 2-0 in the third quarter, en route to a 24-20 Buckeye 8 victory.
"I knew they struggled against the zone against Union Local (during Indian Creek's 46-36 loss to the Jets Tuesday)," Harrison Central coach Justin Clifford said. "He's (Indian Creek coach Joe Dunlevy) seen them all, he's danced all of them, so nothing's new to him.
"I didn't know he'd hold it like that, but like I told our kids at halftime, the object of the game is to win by more than one point so we'll take it."
The first quarter saw the game see-saw back and forth with the biggest lead being a 3-0 Huskies advantage on a Nick Pelegreen 3-pointer. When the dust cleared, the game was tied 10-10. Harrison's Fletcher Watt, with five points, and Creek's Frankie Kamarec, with four points led their respective teams.
Neither team was able to find any rhythm on the offensive end throughout the second quarter, with the Redskins managing just a pair of two-point buckets - one each by Blake Roar and Shane Winland - and the Huskies only getting a basket from Pelegreen and a foul shot from Watt.
shot from Watt.
Early in the third quarter Harrison Central dropped into a 2-3 zone defense. Indian Creek pulled the ball out and held it. The Huskies went back to man quickly to force the action, but that brief moment of action would play a huge part in the third quarter.
With 6:20 left in the third quarter, Harrison's Austin Kowlaski hit a basket to give his squad a 15-14 lead. That was the first and only basket of the quarter for either team.
With 5 minutes left the Huskies went back into their 2-3 zone. Indian Creek again responded by pulling the ball out and holding it. This time, Harrison Central did not come out of its zone and the Redskins proceeded to let the clock run down to 12 seconds left before it made a move to the hoop. A Kamarec shot missed its mark and the Huskies led 15-14 after three.
"We were down one, we had the ball and the arrow, so we were going to have two consecutive possessions," Dunlevy said. "We missed the one at the end of the quarter, but we hit one to start the quarter and go up two. If you said we're up two with seven something left in the game I'd have taken it because in the situation we're in now we're just trying to shorten the game a little."
Added Clifford as to why he remained in the zone in the third quarter unlike in the second, "We didn't want to wear ourselves out because they're going to pass it. They're going to work it and I didn't want to wear ourselves out by running all over the floor on defense. We'll make it a one-quarter game and we'll play from there and see where it goes."
Things remained tight throughout the final quarter. Someone had to take the game over and bring their team the win and that person was Watt for the Huskies.
Off an Indian Creek miss, with Harrison up 18-17, Watt pushed the ball up court and beat the defense for a layup to make the score 20-17. Winland then pulled Creek back with in one with a pair of free throws. Watt pushed another fast break opportunity off a Redskins turnover, this time finding an open Garrett Sproull with a laser of a pass. Sproull finished the easy two-pointer and the score was 22-19 Huskies with 40 seconds left.
Dylan Hibbits hit the first of two free throws with 14 seconds remaining to make the score 22-20. The Redskins went to foul but, only had two team fouls at the time and it took them until 7.9 second left to acquire enough fouls to send the Huskies to the line. At that time Watt was fouled and he smoothly stroked both ends of the one and one to give his team the game's biggest lead at 24-20 and secure the victory.
"Every one of those was huge," said Clifford of Watt. "I know they have kids that work their rear ends off too, but you feel good about a kid that puts all the time in and sacrifices a lot of free time and fun time to get in the gym and work.
"We talked this summer about how we lost a few games like that, missing free throws, and know he's the guy that wants the ball. Good for him."
Watt led all scorers with 10 points in the game. Pelegreen scored seven in support.
Kamarec scored seven and Winland six to lead the Redskins.