Watt’s bucket lifts Huskies over Panthers

RAYLAND – Harrison Central’s Fletcher Watt drove the lane with four seconds remaining to score the game-winner as the Huskies pulled out a 38-36 win over host Buckeye Local Tuesday night.

Coach Justin Clifford’s 8-2 Huskies successfully rebounded from a loss to St. Clairsville on Friday. Clifford’s crew is in back in action on Friday, playing host to Edison.

Coach Jay Morris’ 4-6 Panthers’ visit Bellaire on Friday and travel to Weir on Saturday.

“For whatever reason, we haven’t shot well all season except for a couple of games,” said Clifford. “You have to give them credit, they kept changing defenses on us, but if you hold a team to 36 points, you give yourself a shot.

“Fletcher is a four-year player and he is the guy the other players look to to come through with the big play. They did a good job on him in the first half. I don’t know how he got the shot to go in, but Fletch has a way of making bad shots look like bad shots.”

Buckeye jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the first period, outscoring the Huskies by 10-1 after being deadlocked at 2-2. Brennen Czuchran led the Panthers in the opening session with seven points and three boards while John Rozenek tossed in four.

In the second frame, scoring slowed as the Panthers managed to hold on to a 20-9 lead at the intermission. The hosts led by 20-5 before Watt and Nick Pelegreen scored back-to back in the final minute. Harrison rallied to close the gap to 29-21 in the third. Pelegreen converted three shots from the floor to lead the Huskies.

In the fourth frame, Rasheen Mitchell converted to at the line then meshed a trey to cut the gap to 29-26 at the 6:10 mark. Buckeye bounced back as Kyle Michalo added one at the stripe and Czuchran cashed a layup. Watt netted two at the line and a three-pointer around a John Rozenek score at the line as the hosts led 33-31.

With an assist from Caleb Agnew, Michalo drained a three, but seconds later Austin Kowalski converted underneath to close the gap to 36-33. With 45 second left, Cody Evans took his first and only shot of the game and drained a three-pointer from the right corner to knot the score. A Buckeye turnover set up Harrison’s last attempt. Watt drove the left side of the lane, bouncing off defender to lay in his game-winner. After a timeout, Buckeye’s hopes for a buzzer-beater glanced just off the rim as the horn sounded.

“Good defense makes a great offense,” the talented Watt said after the game while looking back on the Huskies’ ability to overcome their scoring struggles He added that his game-winner wasn’t a set play, but one that gave him the opportunity and he took it. “We just put a lot of pressure on defense and the offense goes from there.”

Watt and Mitchell paced the Huskies with 11 points each while Pelegreen added nine. Mitchell finished with nine rebounds and seven blocked shots while Pelegreen collared eight strays.

Czuchran led all scorers with 13 markers while Michalo added 10. Rozenek led the Pante with nine rebounds.

“My kids battled hard throughout the entire game,” a dejected coach Morris said after t tough loss. “It all came down to them (Harrison) taking their first lead on their final shot.”

“You could just tell by the way the game was going that the game was going to come down to the last possession,” Morris added. “But what really hurt us was our foul shooting in the second half. When you hold a team 38 points, you give yourself a good chance to win.”

Harrison Central 38, Buckeye Local 36

Harrison Central 3 6 12 17 – 38

Buckeye Local 12 8 9 7 – 36

HARRISON CENTRAL: K. Mitchell 0, 0-0 0; Kowalski 2, 0-0 4; Rutter 0, 0-0 0; Watt 3, 4-4 11; Evans 1, 0-0 3; R. Mitchell 4, 2-4 11; Olmstead 0, 0-0 0; Pelegreen 4, 1-2 9. Totals, 14-46, 7-10 38. 3-pointers: Watt, Evans, R. Mitchell.

BUCKEYE LOCAL: Czuchran 5, 3-4 13; Agnew 1, 0-0 3; Borkoski 0, 0-0 0; Williams 0 0-1 0; Duncan 1, 1-4 3; Rozenek 2, 1-2 5; Michalo 3, 1-2 10; Hamilton 1, 0-0 2. Totals, 13-40, 6-13 36. 3-pointers: Michalo 3, Agnew.