SHADYSIDE -- After struggling, on occasion, to hit the big shots down the stretch this season, Harrison Central was clutch Saturday night.
And, leading the way, was one of their leaders.
Austin Kowalski poured in five of his team-high 18 points during the final period to lead the Huskies to a hard-fought 53-43 triumph against Shadyside in a high school boys' hoops tilt inside the Tiger Den.
"In some of the games we've played we have not made those late shots we've needed to," Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford pointed out. "But (Saturday) they were going in. That's a credit to the players about not thinking about their last shot and playing through every possession."
The Huskies (4-3) led the scrappy Tigers, 41-39, heading into the fourth quarter. And just when it looked it like the home team was going to make a run, Kowalski helped make sure it wouldn't.
Kowalski, the team's junior point guard, started the period with a baseline jumper that made the score 43-39. Then, with 6:12 remaining, he hit Cody Evans with a pass that resulted in Evans draining his fourth 3-pointer of the game he finished with 12 points that resulted in a 46-39 Harrison Central lead.
"That's kind of what we expect out of him," Clifford said of Kowalski. "Maybe that's not fair to him, but he's a pretty good player and he did some good things. He carried us there in the fourth quarter."
Shadyside's Travis Fulton scored off his own miss to trim the deficit to five at 46-41 with 4:45 left, but the Tigers were plagued by turnovers and breakdowns on both ends of the court the rest of the game.
"They looked smoother and took their time," Tigers head coach Ed Andes said. "And, a lot of times, we couldnt even get a shot."
Shadyside scored four points in the fourth.
A driving layup by Dustin Redish gave the Huskies a 48-41 lead. Then, following a Nate Olmstead steal, Kowalski made two free throws to up the advantage to 50-41 with less than three minutes remaining.
Kowalski was 9 of 11 from the charity stripe on the night.
"We were playing six guys and they were playing more," Andes said. "Like I told our guys, if you can handle the pressure, you have a chance. If you can't, they're gonna win. And they won.
"We're young and the kids competed. We just have to learn to finish. In the fourth, we tried to keep up with them, but it looked like we got a little tired or mentally tired.
"Kowalski did a nice job of keeping them in the game and handling the ball for them."
The Tigers hit the big shots time and time again during the first half, trailing by one, 16-15, after the first quarter and by three, 24-21, at halftime.
Zach Frizzi, who led all scorers with 19 points, drained one of his four trifectas to open the third quarter and tie the game at 24-24.
Shadyside later went on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 29-29, capped by a baseline jumper by Shane Johnson, who finished with 10 points.
From there, the Huskies (4-3) went on a 10-2 run and grabbed a 39-31 lead. But the Tigers clawed there way back to within two at the end of the period thanks to five points from Logan Cline.
"We just couldn't get the lead," Andes said. "We just couldn't get over the hump."
The Huskies also prevailed in the jayvee contest, 48-37.
Harrison Central 53, Shadyside 43
H K.Mitchell 2 0-2 4; Kowalski 4 9-11 18; B.Mitchell 0 0-0 0; Rutter 0 0-0 0; Redish 2 1-3 5; Evans 4 0-0 12; Yoho 2 0-0 5; Olmstead 3 0-0 7; Miser 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 10-16 53.
S Nardo 1 0-0 2; Johnson 5 0-0 10; Cline 2 0-0 5; Frizzi 7 1-2 19; Fulton 1 0-0 2; Schuetz 1 3-4 5. Totals 17 4-6 43.
3-Point Goals: Evans 4, Kowalski, Yoho, Olmstead; Frizzi, Cline.
Harrison Central16 8 17 12 53
Shadyside15 6 18 4 43