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Harriman head coach Wes Jones felt his Blue Devils would come out and play well in Wednesday’s District 3-A Championship game against Grace Christian.
But Jones never envisioned that his squad would put together one of the most impressive performances in Harriman history, as the Blue Devils opened the game with a 37-8 run before settling for a 72-53 victory.
“I thought we’d come out and play with a lot of energy, but I was surprised that it was 18-3 at the end of the first quarter. I can’t say I envisioned it being 37-8 either,” Jones said following the game. “But we defended their offense really well and when we get stops we can be really good in transition.
“I think we’re playing our best basketball at the perfect time. Basketball is a tournament sport and now is when you want to be playing your best.”
“This is a great feeling,” Harriman senior Xavier Howard added. “We were eager for this game, and it’s great to go out in your last year with a district title.”
Harriman couldn’t have scripted a better start as the Blue Devils built a 12-0 lead before Grace scored on a free throw with 3:01 left in the opening period. By the time the opening period had ended, the Devils held an 18-3 lead with Xavier Howard (8 points) and Hunter Jenkins (5 points) leading the way.
Harriman led 24-6 early in the second period when it appeared that the Rams might be settling down, but then the Devils caught fire again. Back-to-back three-pointers from Chris Works and Chase Hamby pushed the lead to 30-6. By the two-minute mark of the period, Howard had scored 15 total points and Hamby ripped another three-pointer as Harriman suddenly held a 37-8 lead.
About the only thing that went wrong for Harriman in the first half was allowing Grace to score the final seven points of the period, making the score 37-15 at halftime.
Harriman didn’t seem to have the same intensity in the first half, but it really didn’t matter as the Rams were never able to put together a serious run at the Devils.
Grace got within 16 points (45-29) in the third period, but Harriman ended the frame with an 8-2 run to take a 53-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Rams closed to within 60-46 midway through the final period, but Harriman again pulled away down the stretch for the 19-point victory.
Howard (22 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists), Works (19 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals), Chase Randolph (8 points, 5 rebounds) and Hunter Jenkins (8 points) were the leaders for Harriman on the night.
Nathan Silver paced the Rams with 19 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Harriman now turns its attention to the Region 2-A Tournament and a Saturday night match-up against Oliver Springs.
“We scrimmaged them before the season and they executed their man offense really well,” Jones said. “They got two kids in (John) Simms and (Kane) Simpson that can drive it to the basket it and shoot from the perimeter. We’ll have to play solid defense again like tonight.”
“We’ll have to get over this one tonight and be ready for practice tomorrow (Thursday),” Howard added.
Harriman (72) Howard 22, Works 19, Randolph 8, Wilkie 4, Jenkins 8, Gresham 2, Hamby 6, Wampler 3.
Rockwood 46 Midway 45
While Wednesday’s title game was a blowout, the consolation game was a nail-biter with the Tigers using a late 10-0 run to pull out a 46-45 victory.
The first half of Wednesday’s game was close throughout with the Green Wave holding a 12-10 lead after one period of play and a 25-23 lead at halftime.
Rockwood’s Hayden Freels led all scorers in the first half with nine points while Jacob Cawood scored eight points to lead the way for Midway.
The third period would see Midway trying to gain control. The Green Wave outscored Rockwood 11-4 to open the frame before a late basket from Rockwood’s Jared Breazeale made the score 36-29 heading into the final period of play.
Midway scored the first three points of the final period to take a 39-29 lead, and things seemed fine late when Clay Clower scored from in close with 2:05 left to make the score 43-36, but Rockwood had one run left.
A basket from Freels followed by a three-pointer by Breazeale pulled the Tigers to within 43-41 then a pair of free throws from Jared Malicoat tied the score at 43 with 35.4 seconds left.
A pair of Midway turnovers along with a technical foul on the Green Wave led to three Tigers free throws and a 46-43 lead with 16.1 seconds left.
After a time out with eight seconds left, Midway got a great look at a three-pointer from Logan Davidson in the closing seconds, but it would not fall. Clower would put in the miss at the buzzer to make the final score 46-45.
Freels led Rockwood to the win with 15 points and nine rebounds while Breazeale added 11 points and six rebounds. Hunter Grant was next in line with nine points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Clower (10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals), Cawood (10 points, 4 rebounds) and Ruffner (9 points, 9 rebounds) led the way for Midway.
Midway will play at Sunbright Saturday night in the Region 2-A Tournament opener while Rockwood travels to Wartburg.
Midway (45) Clower 10, Cawood 10, Moore 4, Ruffner 9, Davidson 4, Lyle 4, Houser 4.
Rockwood (46) Clem 3, Breazeale 11, Grant 9, Freels 15, Neerman 2, Springs 2, Miller 2, Malicoat 2.