Mitchell’s 30 not enough for Harrison Central at top-seeded Meadowbrook
BYESVILLE — Seeking a fifth consecutive Wheeling Hospital OVAC Boys Basketball Championship 4A title, top-seeded Meadowbrook took step one on Tuesday evening with a 70-43 semifinal victory over visiting No. 4 Harrison Central.
With the lopsided win, the Colts improve to 16-3 and will battle East Liverpool at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Ohio University Eastern to attempt to secure the championship.
In the night’s other OVAC semifinal matchup, East Liverpool routed Martins Ferry, 81-41, to clinch its spot in the title game.
“We put ourselves in position to win a fifth straight title against a good East Liverpool team,” Meadowbrook head coach Lou Tolzda said. “They have a lot of great athletes, and it’s at a tough time with being in the morning. So, that will be a challenge for both teams.”
“We’re excited to get the opportunity to go down and try and defend our title again. It will be a challenge for us, and we will need to work hard for the next few days to get ready for it.”
In the early going, led by high-scoring junior Kobe Mitchell, the visiting Huskies stayed within striking distance in the opening quarter. Mitchell pumped in eight points in the quarter to try to offset Meadowbrook senior Jonathan McCall’s nine-point frame, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“We knew Mitchell (Kobe) is a really talented player. He’s averaging over 30 points a game, and that’s not easy to do,” Tolzda said. “We kind of guarded him by committee and feel like we were able to frustrate him some. Plus, we were able to lock down on their other guys and keep them from hurting us.”
But, McCall received a little more help from his “friends,” with senior Zach Rusnak knocking down a pair of triples for six points, and junior Davis Singleton scoring four to give the Colts a 19-11 lead heading to the second period.
In the second stanza, the Colts seemed to pick up the pace and quickly reeled off a quick 6-0 run, capped by a two-handed dunk from senior Addy Black for a 25-11 lead at the 7:20 mark.
Meadowbrook would then take control of the contest for good, outscoring Harrison Central, 21-9, in the quarter to extend the lead out to 40-20 at the halftime break, with Rusnak’s third 3-pointer of the half ending first half play.
McCall finished with six points to run his first-half total to 15, while Black and Davis Singleton each contributed four markers for the Colts.
Defensively, Meadowbrook was able to slow down the high-scoring Mitchell, limiting him to just four points in the quarter.
“They are just a good team. They can make you look bad at times,” Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford said. “Give them all the credit tonight, I was just a little disappointed with the way we competed. We were OK early with our effort, but then when one or two things went wrong, we seemed to kind of feel sorry for ourselves instead of battling.”
Black led the Colts out to a 15-10 third-quarter scoring edge with six points, including his second flush of the night. Sophomore Jake Singleton also tallied six points to give Meadowbrook a comfortable 55-30 edge after three quarters of play.
Mitchell picked up his scoring pace in the third frame with nine points for the Huskies.
Meadowbrook was able to maintain the upper hand in the final period, finishing with a slight 15-13 points advantage, with both coaches getting reserves some playing time to close out the contest.
Meadowbrook placed four players in double figures, led by McCall with his 15 points (all in the first half). Black, who led the Colts off the glass with 10 rebounds, and Jake Singleton each finished with 13 points, and Davis Singleton added 10 points. Rusnak just missed double figures with nine on his trio of 3-pointers.
Mitchell took game-high scoring honors with 30 points for Harrison Central (10-8), with Cale McAfee chipping in with five.