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Madzia Nets Two Buckets in Final 25 Seconds to Lift Huskies in Thriller

CADIZ — After making a basket with 25 seconds left to pull the Huskies within one, Jace Madzia said he and head coach Justin Clifford shared a moment during the ensuing timeout, and he knew what he needed to do after that.

Harrison Central got the ball back with the final seconds quickly ticking away, and Madzia again found himself with the ball in his hands. He let a short jumper go through contact from an Indian Creek defender, and the shot tickled the twine with about four seconds left.

“I looked over at coach and he said, ‘I need you,’ … and I said, ‘alright, I got you.'” Madzia recalled. “I went to go drive, the kid hit me a little bit, I shot up for a jump shot and made it. It was a good feeling.

“I have never really hit a shot late like that, it was always Kobe Mitchell,” he added with a laugh, referencing his former teammate now at the University of Akron. “It was just a great feeling when it went in.”

“This was teamwork and coming together to do what it takes.”

Creek quickly inbounded the ball then frantically called for a timeout — setting up a last-ditch effort with 0.4 seconds showing on the clock — but the long heave bounced away from anyone in red and the Huskies comeback was complete with a thrilling 43-42 victory.

“Some people keep asking me why I have grey hair and a grey beard, games like that right there are why,” Clifford said. “We’ve challenged them in games like this when it is gut-check time to see what they would do. We called that timeout, and it was no Xs and Os, it was kind of an intestinal fortitude check.

“I was trying to call timeout, but nobody could hear me and Jace made me look like genius because he shot it and made it. You’re happy for a kid like that because he has worked hard and he stepped up and made a big shot.

“This is a good, gut-check win when we needed it.”

As thrilling as it was for the Huskies, it was equally as heartbreaking for Indian Creek, which had appeared to have things under control with a five-point lead in the final minute after leading by six going to the fourth quarter.

“I told the kids I couldn’t be more proud of them, Harrison Central is a good team,” Indian Creek head coach Joe Dunlevy said. “They are a tough matchup because of their size. We did a lot of good things after a tough loss last night. We will keep working to eliminate the little things that cost us.

“I told them what happens at the end of the game isn’t what costs you the game, what happens over the whole 32 minutes is what cost us the game.”

A slow first quarter saw the teams even at 7-7 after Creek’s Logan Schaffer scored the first four points, the Huskies rattled off a 7-0 run, then the Redskins Logan Kuczykowski — who finished with a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists — drained a 3 at the horn to deadlock the score.

The second quarter, however, belonged to the Huskies — especially at the foul line. Harrison Central got into double bonus and took full advantage, opening a 21-15 halftime lead.

In the third, it was Creek’s turn to make a push that nearly carried the Redskins to victory, as they opened the quarter one a 12-4 run that was capped by back-to-back triples from Kuczykowski and Mitch Williams, who later nailed another trey at the horn to make it a 34-28 Creek lead headed to the fourth.

Williams, though, fouled out in the fourth quarter on consecutive Huskies possessions where he and a driving Madzia made contact. The Creek bench plead their case on both that the call should have been a charge, instead of the blocks called on Williams, to no avail.

The second instance created more confusion as, in the dispute over the call, none of the referees, nor the scorer at the table, noticed whether or not Madzia’s shot had dropped in.

They determined the bucket did not count, and Madzia missed the second free throw, keeping it a three-point game with just under five minutes to play.

Hayden Cassidy, who led all scorers with 17 points on the night, cut the deficit to one about a minute later.

A Jayden Irizarry bucket for Creek with :59 to go made it a five-point lead, but those ended up being the Redskins last points before Madzia’s late heroics snatched away the victory.

“Coach D has been doing it for a lot of years and you always know what you’re going to get with them,” Clifford said. “They made some shots in the third quarter that kind of put us on our heels.

“Credit to them. It doesn’t matter if we’re both undefeated or both don’t have any wins, that is the kind of game you’re going to get when these teams lock horns.”

Indian Creek returns home to finish a busy week hosting Edison on Friday and Buckeye Local on Saturday. Harrison Central is also back in action Friday, hosting Beaver Local.

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