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For three quarters Saturday night it looked like Harriman’s dreams of a return trip to the TSSAA Class A State Tournament would end at the hands of Coalfield in the first round of the Region 2-A Tournament.
Harriman trailed 48-43 entering the final period of play, but the Blue Devils weren’t about to part of a Coalfield Cinderella story as Jeff King’s squad torched the nets for 31 points in the final period and that was enough to give Harriman a 74-67 victory.
It was evident early on that Coalfield (10-18) showed no fear of the District 3-A champion Blue Devils. Coalfield opened the game on an 11-6 run, but Harriman would end the opening period on a 9-1 run to take a 15-12 lead after eight minutes of play.
Harriman opened the second period with four more points to make the score 19-12, but the Blue Devils wouldn’t be able to keep the run going as Coalfield settled down, and thanks to a strange ending to the first half, the Jackets led 32-30 at intermission.
Trailing 30-25 late in the half, Coalfield ended the second period on a 7-0 run with four of those points coming in the final 3.4 seconds of the half.
Trevor Bogard hit a pair of free throws with 3.4 to tie the game at 30 then Ryan Hill stole the ensuing inbound pass and was fouled while attempting a long three-pointer before the half ended. Hill hit the two of the free throws to give the Jackets the lead and the momentum at halftime.
Ryan Hill and Cody Duncan led Coalfield with seven points each in the first half while Xavier Howard pumped in 17 points for the Blue Devils.
Coalfield’s lead grew to eight points, 38-30, early in the third quarter after Dillon Wilson buried a trey and Cody Hill added a deuce.
But like was the case in the first half, Harriman settled down and narrowed the gap before a technical foul on the Blue Devils at the end of the period allowed Coalfield’s Cody Hill to bury a pair of free throws, giving the Jackets a 48-43 lead with eight minutes to play.
Entering the final period of play, Harriman had made just two three-pointers on the night, but within a span of 38 seconds, Howard and Darius Gallaher buried back-to-back triples to give the Devils a 49-48 lead.
Things remained close heading into the final four minutes, but that’s when Howard and Shaquille Love scored back-to-back baskets, making the score 61-54 with 2:37 left.
Coalfield answered with a three-pointer from Duncan that made the score 61-57, but a basket from Gallaher and an old-fashioned three-point play from Howard gave the Devils a solid 66-57 lead with 1:49 left to play.
From there, Harriman made eight of 12 free throws to secure the victory.
Howard led Harriman on the night with 33 points and four rebounds. Gallaher (13 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) and Dimitrique Inman (11 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds) also scored in double figures for Harriman.
Dillon Wilson (17 points) and Cody Duncan (16 points) scored in double figures for Coalfield while the brother duo of Cody and Ryan Hill scored nine points each.
With the victory, Harriman (22-6) moves one step closer to Murfreesboro and the state tournament. Harriman took on Wartburg Tuesday night in the Region 2-A Tournament semifinals. The Devils and Bulldogs split a pair of games in the regular season.
Coalfield (67) C. Hill 9, Wilson 17, R. Hill 9, Bogard 5, Powers 7, Duncan 16, Hicks 4.
Harriman (74) Inman 11, Gallaher 13, Howard 33, Love 6, Davis 7, White 2, Lunsford 2.