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By BRIAN LANGLEY
Morgan County News
HARRIMAN—One year ago Cloudland's talented Logan Morgan hit a last-second shot to keep Rockwood from going to the state tournament. His return trip to Roane County wouldn't be as sweet, but it would be his last.
Harriman exacted some revenge for their Roane County rivals, holding Morgan, who entered the game averaging nearly 20 points, without a field goal and punching their ticket to next week's TSSAA Class A State Tournament with a 49-39 victory over the Highlanders in sectional play Monday night. The Blue Devils also got some revenge for their 50-47 loss to Cloudland three years ago in the sectionals, which kept Harriman from the state tournament in 2007.
The Blue Devils (20-10) used a 12-0 run in the final two minutes to erase a two-point deficit and notch their first sub-state win since Harriman's 1995 Class AA State Championship Team.
"Harriman hasn't been since '95. I think my uncle (Mark Boyd), Jeremaine Copeland and Cedric Holmes were in school then. Now we got a chance to go get a gold ball just like they did," said Harriman junior Dimitrique Inman.
Besides winning championships, defense can also get you to Murfreesboro. The numbers don't lie. Harriman held Cloudland to 30.2% shooting (13-43), a season-low 39 points, and 0 three-pointers.
"They executed our game defensive plan wonderfully. We worked for two days on it. We had to stay at home on the shooters. We did a heck of job of staying home. I think what it had to be tonight was true man-to-man defense. Where it is you against him, and it's your job to make sure you can handle him," said Harriman head coach Jeff King.
"You feel humbled to get to this point. We're one of the lucky ones. You have to have some luck to get here. I dare say if we play Cloudland again, they probably wouldn't shoot as poorly as they did."
Harriman's defense set the tone during the first half. They held the Highlanders to a frigid 4 of 20 from the field.
Harriman's Darius Gallaher scored the game's first basket at the 5:30 mark of the opening quarter, but the junior point guard picked up two quick fouls halfway through the period and sat the final 12 minutes of the half.
"I kept my head in the game and kept cheering my team on," explained Gallaher when asked if sitting for nearly 12 minutes affected him any.
Cloudland was held without a field goal until Matthew Potter scored with 3:27 showing in the first quarter. Potter scored again later in the quarter to close the gap to 6-5, but Harriman scored two straight hoops to help them to a 10-7 lead after one.
Early in the second quarter, Inman scored two baskets to push the lead to 16-9. Cloudland pulled to within 16-12 with 5:03 left in the first half.
The Blue Devils had a great opportunity to build the lead at the charity stripe after Tyler Dishman was fouled on a three-point attempt, and Michael Hyden was also assessed a technical foul. However, Harriman only hit 1 of 5 freebies and went a dismal 2 of 8 in a 43-second span for a 20-12 lead. Cloudland cut the halftime deficit to 22-18.
"I don't know how in the world we made it through that half. Outside that defensively we stuck together. You take Darius off the floor for us, and credit Ned (Smith) because he immediately attacked us in the press," King commented.
Harriman led 26-18 early in the third quarter before Cloudland sliced the lead to 26-24 less than two minutes later. The Highlanders finally took their first lead of the game when Cody Bullwinkle scored inside for a 31-30 advantage and Potter added a hoop late in the period to make it 33-30 with one quarter left.
After five minutes of hardly any scoring in the fourth quarter, Cloudland's Potter scored a three-point play to keep his team in front at 39-37 with 2:55 left.
Less than a minute later, Potter fouled out and Harriman's Ben Davis scored inside to tie the game at 39 with 2:04 left. On Davis' failed free throw attempt, Inman scooped up a loose ball, put it up into the basket and was fouled in the process to put the 'Devils ahead for good. Inman finished the three-point play for a 42-39 lead.
Cloudland then went 0-7 from the field after Potter fouled out.
Harriman scored seven more points, the final four from Inman at the charity stripe, in the final 1:42 to notch the 49-39 victory over the Highlanders.
The victory for Harriman was their 12th in the last 15 games and snapped a hot Cloudland team, which entered the game having won 22 of their last 24 contests. Cloudland's season ends at 23-6 as they failed to make their fourth trip to the state in five seasons.
Harriman held a 33-25 advantage on the boards. The Blue Devils also used a 17-13 edge in made field goals with none coming from three-point range.
"Not letting them shoot the three was big. That is what they love to do. They didn't hit one three and that is the main part of their offense" said Gallaher.
The Blue Devils were led by the scoring quartet of Inman (14 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists), Ben Davis (9 points, 5 rebounds), Michael Steinmetz (8 points) and Xavier Howard (7 points). Gallaher chipped in 5 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 4 assists.
Cloudland was paced by Matthew Potter (20 points, 8 rebounds, 6 steals). Logan Morgan added 6 points.
"We knew we had to lock down number 11 (Logan Morgan) and number 14 (Matthew Potter) and make the rest of the team beat us. We locked them down and came out with a win. Not letting them get off early was big. We made them try and beat us off the dribble. We were the first quick team that they faced all year and it bothered the some," said Inman.
All six of Morgan's points came at the free throw line as the senior was held without a single field goal in his final high school game.
"We were able to rotate defenders with a lot of speed on him and made him work like heck. It was big that we made him have to work. He wasn't able to ever catch and shoot it. He was going to have to take it off the floor left or right and pull it up. I think that is what hurt him. Now the three hour ride maybe did too," King explained.
Harriman will play in the quarterfinals of the TSSAA Class A State Tournament next Wednesday at Mufreesboro. Game time and opponent will be drawn this Saturday.
"This is the ultimate goal. Everybody is going to lose but one team at the end. What is special about this stage is that you've got a chance to be one of eight to represent your area. There is not a bad team left. You're not going to run over anybody. You're going to have to prepare," King said.
"We don't want to go down there and just enjoy the ride. We want to go down there and participate. We want to win another game. Our goal is to win one more game. I don't know who we play. We are going to work our best as a staff to try and get everything we can and prepare our kids. We got to get focused back on playing basketball after tonight."
Harriman (49) Inman 14, Davis 9, Steinmetz 8, Howard 7, Gallaher 5, Love 4, Sawyer 2.