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Blue Devils hold off Bobcats, 64-62

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By Brownie Rose

Not many teams have been able to slow down Harriman’s Xavier Howard this season and last Saturday night was no exception for the Oliver Springs Bobcats in the first round of the Region 2-A tournament at Harriman. What the Bobcats did though was almost outscore Howard and the rest of the Blue Devils. Harriman did hold on to get a 64-62 win, but the game’s final quarter was a hair raising experience for the Blue Devils.

Harriman team will continue on in the tourney and played Wartburg Tuesday night in one boys semifinal. Grace Christian played Sunbright in the other semi Tuesday night.

Oliver Springs saw their season come to an end with an 8-23 record.

At the beginning of Saturday’s game, it appeared as if Oliver Springs might be ready to pull off the upset. They outscored Harriman 11-5 at the end of the first quarter, but Howard was just warming up.

Howard scored all five of the Blue Devil first quarter points. Oliver Springs countered with four scorers led by Aaron Noe's trey while John Simms and Matt Henley added three-point plays. Taylor Murray knocked down a hoop for the Bobcats.

A basket by Noe to begin the second quarter pushed the Bobcat lead to 13-5, but Howard was about to get some needed help from the rest of the Blue Devils.

Chris Works completed a three-point play followed by a Howard basket to trim the lead to 13-10. Back-to-back three-pointers from Chase Hamby gave the Devils their first lead at 16-13. 

Henley scored for Oliver Springs to cut the lead to 16-15. Markus Miller scored about two minutes later to give the Bobcats their final lead of the night at 17-16.

With the score tied at 19, Howard took over, scoring seven points in a 9-2 run that gave the Devils a 28-21 lead at halftime.

The third period would prove to be what won the game for the Blue Devils. Howard scored 11 points in the quarter on five field goals and a free throw. Works knocked down a pair of baskets while Hamby rained in another trey, his third of the game. Jacob Gresham added to the Harriman lead with a pair of free throws to help put them up 50-35 at the end of the period.

Henley tried to keep the Bobcats close with four free throws and a pair of baskets in the third.

Henley would lead the Oliver Springs comeback in the fourth period. Oliver Springs  had cut the lead down to 12 within the first three minutes of the fourth, but then both teams went almost two minutes with a combined 11 turnovers and four missed shots in the span. 

Harriman’s Jalyn Wilkie broke up the messy play with a steal and lay up to put the Blue Devils up 57-43 with a little more than two minutes left.

Simms then started an 8-0 run that Henley finished off  with a free throw and a hoop to cut the lead to six with 1:30 left.

Harriman pushed the lead to 63-55, but Oliver Springs  had one run left. Simms scored  for the Bobcats and then got a steal and old-fashioned three-point play to cut the lead to 63-60 with 12.9 seconds left.

Works was fouled on the next inbound play and he hit one of two free throws to give Harriman a four-point lead. 

The Bobcats tried to draw the foul in the final seven seconds, but had to settle for a Henley basket at the buzzer to leave them just short of the upset win.

Harriman (64) Howard 33, Hamby 12, Works 10, Jenkins 5, Gresham 2, Wilkie 2.

 Oliver Springs (62) Henley 26, Simms 9, Noe 7, K. Simpson 6, Dakota Simpson 5, Murray 5, Miller 4.