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Boys' Basketball: Harrison Central Sinks to Ferry Again

February 8, 2012
By SETH STASKEY , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

CADIZ - Martins Ferry coach Jeff Sabatino is going to have nightmares about Harrison Central.

Starring in those nightmares will be Huskie juniors Nick Pelegreen and Fletcher Watt.

Harrison Central's dynamic duo - for the second time this season - had a major hand in the Huskies' come-from-behind, overtime, 63-56, victory against the Purple Riders on Tuesday night.

On Jan. 10, Pelegreen hit a shot late in regulation and then Harrison Central rode Watt and Pelegreen to a 66-65 victory.

It must have felt like deja vu for both teams.

With 3.5 seconds to go in regulation, the Purple Riders, who played without the services of junior Tyler Strama because of sickness, appeared prime to steal a victory after a furious fourth-quarter spurt in which they turned a 10-point deficit into a four-point lead.

With time winding down, Harrison Central went to the bucket. Riders' sophomore Robert Vargo swatted away the shot, but it went out of bounds and possession stayed with the Huskies.

"We had guys step up and make plays," Harrison Central coach Justin Clifford said. "I thanked the guys for bailing me out because we tried to do some different on the fly, but Nick made a huge shot (again) and we played well in the overtime."

Harrison in-bounded to Pelegreen who was all nylon on the 8-foot jump shot just before the horn sounded, tying the game at 50.

"The same guy (Pelegreen) hit a shot to send it to overtime at our place and he did it again," lamented Sabatino. "We hung and we hung and we hung, but I'll be honest with you. We ran out of gas in the overtime."

In the overtime, the same duo - Pelegreen and Watt - saddled the Huskies on their back, scoring 11 of the team's 13 points.

"Harrison just kept bringing it at us (in the overtime)," Sabatino said. "They played a heck of a game. I'll be honest, though. We played a heck of a game, too, especially under the circumstances. This team just keeps playing and playing, and I hope they'll continue to be resilient."

After Ferry freshman Jake Barritt knotted the game at 53-53 with a 3-pointer, the Huskies scored eight straight in the overtime.

"We took shots in the overtime that we probably didn't want to shoot," Clifford said. "But, we shot them anyways and made them, so we'll take it."

Watt set the tone for the game early when he dialed in four of his seven 3-pointers in the game during the first quarter. Both Sabatino and Clifford pointed to his sixth trey, which was made with less than 4 minutes to go in regulation and the Riders leading, 48-44.

"We were reeling and on our heels a little bit (in the fourth quarter," Clifford said. "Fletch hit a big one. That was one of those 'no, no, no, alright' kind of shots. But, when you've got a kid who's got that talent and ability, I guess there's not really a bad shot."

Watt finished with a game-high 27 points. Pelegreen was a bear on the interior, scoring 22 and grabbing nine rebounds. The Huskies also received a solid game from frosh Austin Kowalski, who scored seven points and snared eight rebounds despite his diminutive frame.

"It's been the same way for us all season," Sabatino said. "It seems like every time a big shot needs to be made against us ... it goes in. Maybe, in the tournament, we'll get some luck. That 3 in the fourth (by Watt) was gigantic. If he misses that (shot), we win."

Martins Ferry was once again led by junior Cody Schau, who stuffed the stat sheet once again. He scored 21 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, passed out four assists and blocked three shots.

Vargo closed with 11 and senior Jonathan Carlier netted nine.

The Harrison Central victory sews up a spot in the championship bracket for the Wheeling Hospital OVAC Basketball Tournament. The Huskies will learn their destination for Tuesday's semifinal round this morning, while Martins Ferry will be in the consolation pool and will learn its assignments for next week.

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