Big Red stuns Harrison in Class 4A semifinal

SHOOTING — Steubenville’s Josh Zimmerman shoots over Harrison Central’s Caden Arbaugh in an OVAC semifinal on Tuesday. (Photo by Andrew Grimm)

CADIZ — The focus for No. 4 seed Steubenville in Tuesday’s Class 4A Wheeling Hospital OVAC Boys Basketball Tournament semifinal was defense, knowing it was facing the high-powered offense sported by No. 1 seed Harrison Central.

Big Red (11-8) executed coach Mike Haney’s game plan, keeping control most of the way and holding the Huskies (14-5) well below the usual 80-plus points the team was averaging going in to advance to Saturday’s championship game against Meadowbrook — a rematch of last year’s final — with a 67-57 win.

“We focused (on defense) as soon as we found out we were playing them,” Haney said. “We saw it on film and saw them in person. They can get up and down the court and light it up. Usually we press a lot more, but we wanted to get back and prevent easy layups and open threes.

“They’re an offensive team, and it’s hard to shut them down completely. It’s just about trying to contain them and not give them transition layups and threes. We wanted to make them set up more so we could move around and play some defense.”

Junior Josh Zimmerman led the way for Big Red, scoring a team-high 16 points and dishing out a game-high seven assists to go with four rebounds.

“Our game plan was to stop them from shooting threes and stop them from transitioning,” Zimmerman said. “I thought we did a pretty good job. I tried bringing the energy and getting everybody involved.”

Senior Javon Davis hit all three of Steubenville’s 3-pointers, finishing with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists. Fellow senior DaJuan Jones also hit double digits, scoring 11 points with four assists and three boards. Calvin Bickerstaff finished with nine points and a game-high seven rebounds.

After the Huskies scored the first bucket of the game, Big Red took control with an 18-4 run and eventually led 18-10 after one quarter. Every time Big Red pulled away, however, the Huskies battled back.

Steubenville started the second with the first four points of the quarter to extend the lead to 12, but Harrison Central went on a 7-2 run to close back to within five. After Big Red pulled away a little bit again late in the quarter, the Huskies rallied to within four points at halftime with a pair of late buckets off of turnovers from Caden Arbaugh, who finished with a game-high 24 points.

“They made it tough,” Haney said. “Right before the half we were up 10 and turned the ball over three times in 40 seconds. All of a sudden, it was a four-point game. There were definitely some gut-check moments.

“Every game is just about survival now. You can throw the records out the window. You’ve got to play hard to move on and fortunately we are moving on to Saturday.”

After an Arbaugh free throw pulled Harrison Central within one early in the third, Big Red went on a 5-0 run and eventually extended the lead to 12 headed to the fourth quarter.

The Huskies got back within six four times in the final eight minutes, but never any closer as Steubenville led by as many as 14 en route to winning by 10.

“Give them credit, their athleticism gave us problems on the defensive end,” Harrison Central coach Justin Clifford said. “We didn’t make shots. We didn’t shoot enough to win, and that is my fault.

“We didn’t do what we do tonight and, give them credit, they had a lot to do with that.”

Steubenville faces No. 2 seed Meadowbrook, 83-47 winners over No. 3 seed Oak Glen, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Ohio University Eastern for the 4A title. It is Big Red’s second consecutive title game appearance and third in four years. Big Red last won in 2014.

“I want to play them again because they beat us last year and we didn’t play very well in that game,” Zimmerman said. “Hopefully we can get it done on Saturday.

“It is tournament time. We’re getting focused and playing like every game is the last game.”

Harrison Central will host the Golden Bears in consolation action on Friday night.

Game notes:

¯ Steubenville won the jayvee game, 54-32. Big Red was led by 14 from Randy Mitchell. Harrison Central got a game-high 15 from Gavin Mukle.

Steubenville 67, Harrison Central 57

Steubenville 18-13-18-18 — 67

Harrison Central 10-17-10-20 — 57

STEUBENVILLE (11-8): D. Jones 5 1-3 11; Davis 3 4-6 13; Zimmerman 7 2-3 16; Roundtree 3 1-1 7; Bickerstaff 4 1-2 9; Zane 0 0-0 0; Rauch 1 1-2 3; D. Smith 4 0-0 8; Bracone 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 27, 10-17, 67.

HARRISON CENTRAL (14-5): Arbaugh 8 6-7 24; Hubey 3 0-2 7; Dalton 4 0-2 8; Stine 1 4-4 6; Mitchell 3 4-4 10; Caldwell 0 0-0 0; Elliott 1 0-0 2; West 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20, 14-19, 57.

3-POINT GOALS: Steubenville 3 (Davis 3); Harrison Central 3 (Arbaugh 2, Hubey 1). REBOUNDS: Steubenville 30 (Bickerstaff 7); Harrison Central 25 (Arbaugh 6, Dalton 6). ASSISTS: Steuebnville 19 (Zimmerman 7); Harrison Central 14 (Hubey 4). TURNOVERS: Steubenville 17; Harrison Central 21.