Wheeling Central's Chase Harler received the highest compliment a player can get. The respect of a fellow player.
Following the Maroon Knights' 64-55 double overtime victory against Charleston Catholic, Irish senior Nick George said he was glad he got to play against the sophomore.
"I can say I got to play against him one day, because he is going to be special," George said. "He is special. To score (30) points in a state championship is really something."
Harler did that, and 22 of those came in the second half , seven in the second overtime, as Central pulled away for an 11th state championship.
Time and time again he came up with the big shot when Central needed it.
He did it all well on the state's biggest stage.
In the quarterfinals, in a nip-and-tuck matchup with Parkersburg Catholic, a 59-57 victory, he had 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
In the smifinals, the one game where Central had some breathing room thanks to a fast start by senior teammate David Park, Harler had 17 points, six assists and four rebounds.
"He is obviously mature beyond his years, especially for a sophomore, on the basketball court," saidWheeling Central coach Mel Stephens, who has won five titles at the school. "I'm glad we have him and I am glad we have him for two more years."
Harler averaged 21.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and four assists in the three game run, that saw Central finish 25-3 and win its last 17 games.