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It was an exciting night of basketball at Richard Pickell Gymnasium in Harriman on Tuesday night, with the Blue Devils and Lady Blue Devils hosting non district foe Wartburg.
In the opening game, it seemed Harriman's girls were on the verge of getting blown out of their home gym, but a furious rally in the second half came up short, as the Lady Devils tired and wound up losing 67-57.
The loss overshadowed a terrific performance by Harriman's Lindsey Higgins, who finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.
The much-anticipated boys' game followed and Harriman avenged an earlier loss to the Bulldogs, winning 70-59 behind 26 points from Dimitrique Inman and 20 from Xavier Howard.
After a game last night against Berean Christian, the Harriman basketball programs return to action this evening, traveling to cross-county rival Kingston.
Wartburg jumped out to a 6-1 lead before Harriman got baskets from Cree Moore and Jadah Gallaher to cut the lead to 6-5 with just under four minutes to go in the first quarter. Haylee Goins scored a lay up, but the Lady Bulldogs hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to carry an 11-7 lead into the second.
For Harriman, all the scoring came from Higgins in the second quarter, with the agile post player scoring 12 points. But the Lady Blue Devil defense had lapses, allowing a hot-shooting Wartburg team to expand the lead to 31-19 at the end of the first half. Wartburg knocked down four three-pointers in the period to offset Higgins' performance inside.
Higgins started the third with a pair of free throws and then Goins banged home a three to cute the lead to 31-24 quickly. Wartburg answered with another bomb from Kellie Kidd and would increase their advantage to 43-28 before Whitney Johnson scored for the Lady Blue Devils on an offensive rebound.
Higgins scored four and Olyvia Lunsford made a steal and basket to end the third period. But the Lady Bulldogs were seemingly in control, ahead 52-36.
Moore got the Lady Blue Devils started in the fourth, scoring inside. After a Wartburg lay up, Harriman went on a little run, capped by two steals and four free throws from Goins, who finished the night with nine points. With 2:36 left in the game, Lunsford knocked down an 18-footer to pull Harriman within three, 56-53.
But tired legs and eight missed free throws would haunt Harriman down the stretch.
The Lady Bulldogs protected the ball and hit enough of their free throws to hold on for the 67-57 win.
Harriman (57): Higgins 28, Goins 9, Lunsford 6, Gallaher 5, Boyd 4, Moore 4, Johnson 2.
Earlier in the season, the Harriman boys visited Wartburg and things didn't go well. Foul trouble and a Wartburg team that was on fire led to a big loss for the Blue Devils.
Things changed on Tuesday.
The Devils came out blazing, jumping to a 14-2 lead in the early stages of the battle and doing all the things necessary to hold on for an impressive 70-59 win.
The key all night for Harriman was their overall quickness. The Blue Devils were able to drive through and past the Wartburg defense all night and more importantly, were able to finish or get to the free throw line when they did.
Darius Gallaher opened the scoring with a pair of free throws after one of those drives and then Howard went off for six-straight points. A 16-footer by Inman put the Devils ahead 14-2 before the Bulldogs finally got on track offensively. Things tightened up at the end of the first and after a Wartburg three-point play, the Blue Devils found themselves ahead just 19-17 heading into the second.
Wartburg quickly tied things up, but the Blue Devils again started penetrating the Bulldog defense. Inman and Howard put Harriman ahead 27-21 with four and a half minutes remaining in the first half.
Wartburg rallied, but a Tyler Dishman three-point bomb gave the Blue Devils a 35-28 lead at the end of the first half.
Despite playing well, Harriman never could put a lot of distance between themselves and Wartburg.
A freebie by Alex White with 6:47 left in the third gave Harriman a 38-30 advantage, but Wartburg cut the four with just under three minutes to play. The Bulldogs completed an 11-0 run to cut the lead to 46-44, but back-to-back baskets by Howard put Harriman back ahead by six.
With nine seconds left in the third stanza, Gallaher got an old fashioned three-point play and the Blue Devils led 55-49 heading into the fourth quarter.
Inman stole a pass and scored to push the lead to eight and Wartburg coach Joe Layne was hit with a technical foul that put Harriman ahead by nine, 58-49, with 7:18 left in the game.
Wartburg tried, but the Blue Devils answered every challenge in the final quarter, including D.C. Upton who hit a key jumper and Gallaher, Inman and Howard, all of whom were solid all night.
The buzzer sounded and Harriman celebrated a key 70-59 win over the Bulldogs.
Harriman (70): Inman 26, Howard 20, Gallaher 11, Dishman 5, Al. White 4, Au. White 2, Upton 2.
Wartburg (59): Shannon 16, Langley 13, Goodman 11, Richardson 9, Justes 4, Z. Goodman 4, Fountain 2.