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It was one of those games that the Harriman Middle School Blue Devils and Wartburg Bulldogs had circled, and it lived up to the hype as Wartburg (6-0) handed Harriman (5-1) their first loss of the season in a thrilling 52-50 contest at Wartburg.
In the early going Thursday, Harriman held the advantage as the Blue Devils raced out to a 12-7 lead after one period of play.
Harriman’s John Johnson scored six points in the first quarter, and that was a sign of things to come for the talented left-hander.
In the second period, Harriman’s lead grew to 16-10, but Wartburg used a 7-0 run to briefly grab a 17-16 lead. The rest of the half was a seesaw affair that would end in Harriman holding a 24-22 lead at halftime.
Johnson added nine points to his tally in the second quarter, but he did sit a good portion of the period with foul trouble and that would plague him throughout the second half.
Justin Thomas and Dylan Fountain scored seven points each for Wartburg in the first half while Thomas Carroll added five.
The third period opened with Wartburg making a run. The Bulldogs outscored Harriman 16-5 in the first five minutes of the frame to grab a 38-29 with one minute left to play.
Harriman, however, wrestled the momentum away from the Bulldogs entering the final period as Isaiah McClain scored five straight points, including a three-pointer at the buzzer to make the score 38-34 with six minutes left to play.
Fountain and McClain scored seven points each to lead the way in the quarter.
The final period turned into a battle with both teams making big shot after big shot.
Johnson opened the final period with Harriman’s first seven points and that pulled Harriman to within 42-41 with 3:45 left, but Wartburg’s Jordan Lane hit a pair of three-pointers to spark a 6-2 run to give the Bulldogs a 48-43 lead with 2:25 left.
Harriman, however, came right back with a 6-1 run of their own, highlighted by two baskets from Johnson that tied the game at 49 with 1:04 left to play.
The score remained tied and with 28 seconds left, Harriman called time out to set up a possible last play. Wartburg’s Carroll, however, spoiled Harriman’s strategy when he came up with a steal that led to Johnson fouling out when Carroll attempted a lay-up with 18 seconds left to play.
Carroll hit the first free throw, making the score 50-49. He missed the second, but Lane was there for the put back as Wartburg led 52-49 with 16 seconds left.
After a time out, Harriman got a big break when McClain was fouled while attempting a three-pointer with five seconds left.
McClain hit the first free throw, but the missed the second. He intentionally missed the third, but Harriman couldn’t get off a good shot as the horn sounded following a mad scramble for the rebound.
Johnson led Harriman on the night with 28 points, 13 rebounds and six steals while McClain added 13 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Carroll (15 points, 6 steals, 5 assists), Fountain (15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) and Lane (9 points) led the way for Wartburg.
Harriman (50) Johnson 28, McClain 13, Phipps 2, Staggs 3, Duncan 2.
Wartburg (52) Carroll 15, Hopper 2, Justes 4, Fountain 15, Thomas 7, Lane 9.
The girls game wasn’t as high scoring, and wasn’t as dramatic, as Harriman held a comfortable lead throughout on their way to a 24-18 victory.
Harriman outscored Wartburg 9-5 in the first period and used a 7-1 advantage in the second period to take a 16-6 lead into halftime.
Jada Johnson was Harriman’s big gun in the first half with seven points.
The third period was low scoring with Harriman winning the period 4-2 to make the score 20-8 with one period left to play.
Harriman’s lead grew to 24-10 early in the final period, but Wartburg did make things interesting. The Lady Bulldogs used an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 24-18 late in the game, but Wartburg wouldn’t score again as Harriman held on for the win.
Johnson led Harriman on the night with 13 points, 10 rebounds, seven blocks and four steals. Katie Kring (10 rebounds, 5 steals) and Katie Hall (8 rebounds) helped Harriman to a 33-16 advantage in rebounding.
Haley Luttrell led Wartburg with nine points and five steals.
Harriman (24) Hall 3, Kring 3, Johnson 13, Pack 3, Goldston 2.
Wartburg (18) Luttrell 9, Kidd 4, Hall 2, Elrod 2.