Growing Pains May Be Ahead for Huskies
By SETH STASKEY
For the News-Register
CADIZ — As he prepares for his 11th season at the helm of Harrison Central’s boys basketball team, Justin Clifford expects his team to endure “some growing pains.”
However, he also understands that no one on the Huskies challenging slate is going to “feel sorry” for the Huskies either.
After all, Harrison Central is coming off a four-year run in which they featured multiple-time All-Ohioan Kobe Mitchell, who scored 2,421 career points. Mitchell, who was the Division III Ohio Player of the Year last winter, is now playing collegiately at the University of Akron.
“It was definitely weird walking into the gym (to begin the season) and not seeing Kobe or even a Mitchell at all,” Clifford said. “When you lose a guy who averaged 30 (points per game), it’s never a good thing, but every year presents new challenges and we’re trying to do the best with the players we have back.”
Senior Jonathan Vermillion, however, could be back by the new year. Vermillion scored 10.1 points a game last season.
“Jonathan will be back, but he’s still non-contact right now,” Clifford said.
As for the players available, Clifford does return one of the area’s top 3-point shooters in sophomore Hayden Cassidy. He exploded onto the scene last season by connecting on 39 bonus goals. All told, he averaged 8.1 points a game. However, without Mitchell, his role will certainly change.
Junior Jace Madzia (6-2) saw minutes last season and will take on a larger role and could run the offense.
Sophomore Nick Fluharty (6-7) saw a bulk of his action on the jayvee level a season ago, but will shift to the highest prep level this winter.
Freshman swing player Mykel Quito (6-1) is another Clifford believes could have an impressive season at the varsity level.
Senior Jonus Jones (5-8) is another talented perimeter shooter at the Huskies disposal.
Sophomore Daniel Ody (6-4) transferred to Harrison Central after spending last year at Akron Green. He, too, could see some viable minutes.
Sophomore Clayton Vermillion (6-5) will see action in the paint.
Sophomore Alex Fluharty (6-2), sophomore Parker Hutton (5-9) and freshman Cam McAfee (5-7) could all help at the varsity level this season.
Ticketed primarily for jayvee duty are junior Josiah Jones, junior Wyatt Pierce, sophomore Ryan Arbaugh, freshmen Reed Arbaugh, Brady Elliott, Brice Tanner, E.J. Keener and Trevyn Bryant.
“We’ll go through some growing pains, especially with the guys we’re missing because of injuries,” Clifford said. “The guys we have (healthy) are working hard, and we’ll get them ready. We’re getting there, but we’ll definitely find out more when we throw it up.”
The Huskies schedule takes on a slightly different look. Harrison is now in the Buckeye 8 North, which means home-and-homes with Edison, East Liverpool, Indian Creek and Beaver Local. The Huskies still play single games against Bellaire, Union Local and Martins Ferry. The Clifford Bowl between Justin’s Huskies and Ryan’s St. Clairsville squad will be staged twice.
Clifford is being assisted by Donnie Madzia, Jimmy Litle and Mike Sliva.