Harrison Central Secures Division II Sectional Title
CADIZ — From the opening tip of Saturday night’s Ohio Division II boys’ sectional title tilt between Maysville and Harrison Central, one thing was clear — the Panthers had energy, lots of it.
But by the midway point of second quarter, the Huskies caught up in that department, erasing what was an eight-point deficit. And with a raucous, partisan crowd behind them inside the John W. Stephenson Center, they started doing what they do best — run, score, and run and score some more.
The result was an 80-68 victory that catapults Harrison Central into Wednesday night’s district semifinal opposite Meadowbrook. The two teams will meet at Union Local’s “Hangar” at 7 p.m,
“I couldn’t be more proud of a group,” Huskies coach Justin Clifford said after watching his squad cut down the nets, the spoils of a sectional crown. “Just their non-stop, never quit, never-say-die attitude. They just don’t blink when things happen. Why would they after all that’s happened?
“Our kids have stuck in with everything that’s gone on with (my medical issues) and all that stuff. They’ve never batted an eye. We knew they’d be alright.”
Even after Maysville (12-11) jumped out to a 5-0 lead, then stretched it to 18-10 midway through the opening quarter, Clifford was confident his squad wouldn’t lose focus and stay the course.
“We knew it was going to be an up-and-down game,” he said. “They like to play the way we like to play and they shot well early. But, we were down just six after one and we just kept chipping away.”
It’s true. And, as the Huskies started to chip away, they gained momentum and started to quell some of that early Panther energy.
Following Connor Sidwell’s bucket that put Maysville up 27-22, he Huskies went on a 5-0 run to tie the game bolstered by a 3 from Chance Hursey.
The run was a sign of things to come for the hosts, who were starting to find chinks in the Panthers’ defensive armor.
Leading by one, 35-34, at halftime, the Huskies, exploded in the third, winning the quarter 27-10 thanks to a 16-4 run to start the period. Freshman Kobe Mitchell came alive with seven of his 12 points during the surge, which found the Huskies exploiting Maysvile’s zone defense.
“We took good shots in the third quarter and we shot a lot of layups in the second half,” Clifford said. “We got by them and got to the hoop.”
While Maysville was softening defensively, Harrison Central strengthened while defending its hoop.
“Defensively, we got some stops,” Clifford said of what he thought was the difference in the game. “That’s what it comes down to. And, we scored 80 points again. That helps. I don’t know if (Maysville) got wore down or what? We did a good job of attacking the hoop.”
By the end of the third, the Huskies led by 18, 62-44, and for all intents and purposes had the title in hand.
Dallas Rowland paced the panthers with 20 points, while Sidwell finished with 19. Brandon Ullman had 10.
The Cadens — Arbaugh and Dalton — led the Huskies in scoring with 18 and 17, respectively. Evan Stine also scored 12.
“That’s why we’ve won 18 games (5 losses) and this sectional title and a regular-season OVAC title,” Clifford said, referencing his team’s scoring parity. “That’s because this is a group that doesn’t care who gets the limelight, so as long as Harrison Central has more points than the other team.”