Meadowbrook cools down Harrison Central

FLYING HIGH — Harrison Central’s Chance Hursey hits a layup against Meadowbrook in a Division II divisional contest on Wednesday. -- Sandi Thompson)

MORRISTOWN — Eyes were red and tears were flowing inside and outside the Harrison Central locker room Wednesday evening.

Even head coach Justin Clifford simply couldn’t contain his emotion. And who could blame him or his players?

The fact that Harrison Central saw its season come to an end, 56-41, at the hands of a talented and physical Meadowbrook squad at Union Local High School was actually just the tip of the iceberg.

The finality of it all brought to a close a roller coaster month of emotion that saw Clifford miss a handful of games as he battled serious health problems. Even without him at the helm, the Huskies managed to win 18 games, finish as the top seed in the OVAC tournament and win a sectional title.

“We told the kids we’ve come a long, long way in more ways than just basketball,” Clifford said. “I am just so proud of this group of kids. We got rolling a little bit, and it would have been easy (after the loss to Steubenville in the OVAC tournament) with everything that was going on to just throw in the towel. But, we got better. That’s a credit to the kids and my coaching staff, especially Chad Figurski.”

Unfortunately, as is often the case along the Ohio tournament trail, the Huskies simply ran into a quality squad that possessed simply too much in terms of size and physicality for Harrison to handle.

Meadowbrook scored the first seven points of the game and never trailed. Harrison could only get as close as four at a point in the third quarter when talented freshman Kobe Mitchell hit a 3-pointer, making it 38-34.

The Huskies’ momentum was short lived, however. On the ensuing trip, Davis Black, who was a tough matchup all evening for Harrison, canned a triple, his only bonus goal of the game, to make it a 41-34 reading at the final stop.

“We went to a zone to slow them down after their initial run, but it kind of slowed our pace down, too,” Clifford said. “We didn’t get as many possessions as we’d like. Give Meadowbrook credit because they’re well-coached, and they did some things that bothered us. The zone gave us a chance to stay in the game.”

In the fourth quarter, when the Huskies found themselves having to get out of the zone, the Colts pulled away. A rebound and basket from DeJuan Caldwell got the Huskies within seven at 43-36, but Meadowbrook responded with the next five.

All-Ohio candidate Trey Singleton, who had an off shooting night and scored only 13 points, which is well below his average, tallied a floater and then recorded a conventional 3-point play, giving the Colts a 12-point cushion.

“We had a goal coming in to limit Singleton (offensively) and we held him to 13, but (Black) hurt us inside,” Clifford said. “We don’t have anyone to match up with him physically. When you limit the possessions, it affects us, too. We had to contain them off the dribble.”

Mitchell answered with his fourth 3-pointer of the night, but Meadowbrook closed with eight of the final 10 to secure the win and a trip to Saturday night’s district title game at Muskingum University against Zanesville, which dispatched Indian Creek.

“We played good defense and have all year,” Meadowbrook head coach Scooter Tolzda said. “Holding Harrison to 41 points was the difference. We didn’t play well offensively, and their zone gave us problems. They won 18 games, so they’re no pushover.”

The Huskies were led by Mitchell’s 12 points. Caldwell was next in line with seven. Tyler West, Evan Stine and senior Caden Arbaugh, who received a standing ovation from the droves of Huskies’ fans after a brilliant final campaign, all finished with six.

Black’s 20 paced the Colts, while Singleton’s aforementioned production backed him.

“Trey didn’t have his best shooting night, but Davis really played well,” Tolzda said. “Zanesville is playing well right now, and we’ve been on the cusp with them twice. You never know. We have a shot, which is exciting.”

Meadowbrook 56, Harrison Central 41

Harrison Central 13-11-10-7 — 41

Meadowbrook 20-10-11-15 — 56

HARRISON CENTRAL: Arbaugh 2, 1-4 6; Elliott 0, 0-2 0; Hursey 0, 0-0 0; Dalton 2, 0-0 4; Stine 2, 1-2 6; Mitchell 4, 0-0 12; Caldwell 3, 0-0 7; West 2, 2-2 6. TOTALS: 15, 4-8: 41.

MEADOWBROOK: McCall 3, 1-1 7; Singleton 4, 4-7 13; Neff 4, 0-0 8; Feyko 2, 0-1 4; D. Black 9, 1-5 20; A. Black 1, 0-0 2; E. Black 0, 2-2 2. TOTALS: 23, 8-16: 56.

3-POINT GOALS: Harison Central — Mitchell (4), Arbaugh, Caldwell, Stine. Meadowbrook — Singleton, D. Black.