Wildcats edge Huskies
RICHMOND – With only 20 seconds remaining and his team up by just two points, Edison’s Bryce Piatt had to block out the chants and cheers as he stepped to the foul line.
A tall task for a 5-foot-6 freshman.
Piatt was fouled hard going in for a lay up and needed to sink a pair of free throws to extend the lead over Harrison Central.
“That forces you to grow up pretty quick,” said Wildcats coach Nate Moses.
With relative ease, Piatt swished both fouls shots which preserved the lead and Edison held on for a 63-60 victory against the Huskies.
“It feels great,” Piatt said of closing out the game with his only two points. “Nothing was really going through my mind there. I was trying to get fouled to have that chance to help finish it off.”
The Wildcats (3-7) led 45-43 entering the fourth quarter. There were three lead changes in the final frame.
Harrison (4-5) got its first advantage, 46-45, on a successful and-one attempt by Austin Kowalski.
Skylar Wilkin drained a 3-pointer, his only bucket of the fourth quarter, at the top of the key with 3:08 remaining to put the Wildcats back up, 56-54. The junior finished with 11 points.
“I didn’t take too many shots and to make one at a crucial time felt good,” Wilkin said. “We played strong after that.”
Erik Lee scored eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, even though Edison was outscored by Harrison, 18-17, in the final eight minutes.
“We’ve been in every game all year long,” Moses said. “They’ve all just come down to the fourth quarter. Whoever wins the fourth quarter usually wins it.
“We know it’s going to be a fourth quarter battle because that’s just the way our season has gone. Hopefully this is a stepping stone and things turn bright for the second half of our season.”
The Wildcats played without big man Storm Alese for most of the second and third quarters due to foul trouble. Austin Hyndman and Austin Horan each fouled out.
Still, Alese finished with six points and Hyndman had 10.
The Huskies shot just 18 of 57 from the field and 19 of 31 from the foul line. They missed 17 shots in the paint.
“You’re not going to win games with those numbers,” said Harrison coach Justin Clifford.
“Edison had a lot to do with that, too. They bothered us inside and contested shots.
“If we made half of those (in the paint) and made some free throws, it could be a different result.”
After Piatt’s pair of free throws, Kowalski drove the length of the court for a lay up, bringing the score to 62-60.
The Huskies had a chance to tie it with eight seconds left after Alese made one of two free throws.
“We wanted Austin to have the ball,” Clifford said of the plan after a timeout. “We drew it up and we work on it everyday in practice. It just didn’t work out.”
Wilkin intercepted an intended pass to Kowalski and held on to the ball as time expired.
“We needed to get a stop at the end and we did,” Wilkin said. “I got a lucky steal to seal it. We have to keep running with this momentum and hopefully keep winning.”
The Wildcats’ next opportunity is Tuesday at Martins Ferry.
Harrison, paced by 26 points from Dustin Redish and 15 from Kowalski, play at Shadyside tonight.