Barnesville Shox Harrison Central |  News, Sports, Work

Barnesville Shox Harrison Central | News, Sports, Work

Barnesville’s Duker Castello pulls up for a jumper as Harrison Central’s Mikel Quito defends.

Facing the second-seeded Huskies for the third time this season, the Shamrocks outscored and outplayed Harrison through four quarters and walked away with the coveted sectional co-championship in a hard-fought 51-42 victory.

Turnovers were the name of the game in the first half, especially in the second quarter when the visitors committed 15 turnovers and used a 16-8 run to take a 28-22 lead into the break.

Harrison possessed a definite height advantage, and Barnesville and head coach Shane Stevens knew increasing the defensive pressure would be paramount.

“I think our guys knew we were going to have to push them,” Stevens said as his team advanced to a district semifinal meeting with Malvern, a big winner Friday against Edison. “We knew we were going to have to throw everything we had to give us the best chance and it worked out in the end.

“We put some pressure on and put them in trouble and were able to stay on top.”

In the previous meeting, Barnesville’s press did some damage early, but Harrison made some adjustments in the second half, coming out and coming back to win the game.

There would be no such repeat on Friday.

While the Huskies corrected the turnover problem in the third quarter — going from 15 to just two — the team still couldn’t get a bucket. To make matters worse, Harrison held Barnesville almost scoreless in the quarter.

Barnesville scored five points, but all five came in the final two minutes. Harrison’s third quarter total? Six points. The main opportunity not only to reduce the deficit, but in all probability to lead, remained unrealized.

“They got us out of our zone,” Harrison Central head coach Aaron Foldy said. “We talk about playing like us, and we haven’t played like us. They did a great job of getting us out of what we like to do offensively and defensively.

“They spread us out on defense and we made mistakes, turnovers and their pressure caused it.”

When the third quarter ended, Barnesville still led by five at 33-28. Harrison did make one final run.

The momentum finally seemed to swing to the Huskies when Alex Fluharty made a steal near midcourt, drove to the basket and threw down a powerful one-handed dunk, igniting the home crowd.

That cut the deficit to two at 35-33, but the Huskies got no closer. A chance to tie the score at 43 came and went later in the final quarter when both ends of a two-shot foul went out.

Harrison is one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the Ohio Valley, but the Huskies finished an uncharacteristic 6-of-12 at the line. It just wasn’t their night.

“The hardest thing is our seven seniors,” Foldy said. “Right here the word we use is love, we love these guys and that’s the type of program and culture we’re trying to build here.

“But we’re just getting out of our zone and that’s also down to me as a coach. I have to prepare and study better as a young coach.”

Casey Carpenter finished with a game-high 19 points to lead the Shamrocks, including nine in the final quarter when the Barnesville guard made big plays all over the court.

Brady Elliott led Harrison with 15 points, which also got 12 from leading scorer Hayden Cassidy. However, Cassidy and second-leading scorer Mikel Quito were limited to a combined six points in the second half. Elliott didn’t fare much better, totaling just five after a 10-point first-quarter explosion.

Barnesville knew where to focus its defensive efforts the most and it paid off.

“We focused heavily on them, especially (Cassidy and Elliott),” Stevens said. “Cassidy is a very good player and he had 20-somethings the last time we played, so we tried to keep them in check and make others beat us and it worked.”

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