CADIZ - Braving all the wintry elements, neighboring rivals Buckeye Local and Harrison Central met for the second time this season and sent no one home expecting more excitement as the Huskies held off a determined Panthers squad in notching a 69-57 victory on the John Stephenson Center floor on Friday night.
On Jan. 8, the two teams went head-to-head at Connorville in a game that wasn't decided until the final four seconds on a Fletcher Watt bucket. The Huskies won the game 38-36.
Justin Clifford's Harrison Central crew was coming off a loss to St. Clairsville earlier in the week and bounced back well to boost their record to 13-5.
The victory was a big one for the Huskies. Harrison Central is sitting in third place in the rugged OVAC Class 4A race behind Steubenville and St. Clairsville.
Jay Morris' Panthers dropped to 8-9.
"You have to give Buckeye a lot of credit, they played very well,'' Clifford said. ''We came in on an emotional high with Senior Night, but once we got set we went on that 22-0 run and played much better.''
Harrison jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a bucket by Nick Pelegreen, a trey by Austin Kowalski and a bucket by Kaleb Mitchell off a nice feed from Fletcher Watt. The lead was short-lived as Buckeye followed that with an 18-2 run that pushed the Panthers to an 18-9 lead.
Junior standout Brennen Czuchran led the outburst with a trio of 3-pointers.
Kyle Michalo added seven points, and Watt scored at the buzzer to stop the Panthers spurt and close the first frame with the Panthers leading by 18-11.
Buckeye pulled to within 38-34 early in the third, but Kowalski and Watt drained back-to-back threes and Kowalski converted two at the line to extend the lead to 46-34. The winners led by 51-42 at the final break.
Kowalski and Watt led the Huskies in scoring with 22 points apiece. The pair combined to convert 14 of 15 at the line. Rasheen Mitchell and Pelegreen also came through with a double digit effort tossing in 11 each. Mitchell also collared six rebounds.
Czuchran completed one of best scoring efforts of the season with 24 game-high points. Michalo tossed in 17 and Rozenek closed the night with nine. Czuchran also grabbed nine of his team's 28 rebounds while Rozenek latched onto seven.