CADIZ - It's simple, really.
If one wants to dissect the deciding factor in Union Local's 55-41 prep boys' basketball victory against Harrison Central on Friday inside a raucous and jammed-packed John W. Stephenson Center, all they'd have to do is look at the fourth-quarter portion of the scorebook.
There, they'd find four pretty important numbers, all involving shooting in the fourth quarter - Union Local, 7 of 9 from the field and 2 for 2 from the line; Harrison Central, 2 of 10 from the field and 0-for-0 from the line.
Harrison Central’s Austin Kowalski (2) drives to the basket during Friday night’s Buckeye 8 battle against Union Local.
It all added up to the 12th victory in as many tries for the Jets, the sixth-ranked team in Ohio Division III by The Associated Press.
The Huskies fell to 6-6, with a date at Beaver Local tonight.
''It's a big victory and it's a credit to the kids,'' said Union Local's Ben Porter, who also coached the Jets to victories against Barnesville and John Marshall this week.
''Now, we'll get two days off. We need a little rest. We'll come back Monday and starting working again.''
Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford said that while, again, his players gave the maximum effort, the aforementioned shooting numbers were the difference.
''They made the plays and we didn't (down the stretch),'' he said.
The Jets held a slim 38-35 after three quarters, but the final period was all Union Local.
Gavin Porter led off the fourth with a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 41-35. But Nate Olmstead came right back with a trey of his own to make it a 41-38 game.
Following a Union Local time out, Porter found Colton McKivitz underneath for a layup, making the score 43-38.
McKivitz blocked Cody Yoho's shot at the other end setting up a layup by Trenton Tipton that gave the jets a 45-38 advantage.
Moments later, Porter stole the ball. He got the ball to David Paulick, who found McKivitz for another layup, making the score 47-38 and forcing Clifford to call time with 5:22 remaining.
''Both of our big guys had some good passes there late,'' Ben Porter noted.
Olmstead missed a shot coming out of the stoppage and, again, Paulick found McKivitz for another layup, making the score 49-38.
Back-to-back layups by Paulick upped the lead to 15 - 53-38 - with a little more than a minute to go.
Kowalski drained a trey with :33 left, but was too little too late for the Huskies.
''Probably the thing I was most impressed with more than anything during that fourth quarter was our defense,'' Ben Porter said. ''We contested every shot. Harrison is a good team and I have a lot of respect for what Coach Clifford does. Those kids work their tails off.
''But I thought our zone worked well in the second half. We stuck with it. We also finally started rebounding.''
The Huskies were crashing the boards with a frenzy early, including one possession in which they grabbed six offensive rebounds as part of an opening 7-2 salvo. But the Jets went on a 12-2 run to take a 14-10 lead after the first quarter.
Union Local's momentum continued into the second quarter as the Jets built a 24-17 lead. Harrison Central rallied, however, with a 10-0 spurt of its own, capped by a Kalub Mitchell 3 that gave the Huskies a 27-24 lead with a minute left in the first half.
At that point, the game would stay nip and tuck until the final period.
McKivitz paced the Jets with 18 points, while McDiffitt and Gavin Porter added 13 and 10, respectively.
Kowalski and Olmstead each finished with 10 for the Huskies.
''Our kids continue to make plays,'' Ben Porter said. ''That's a tribute to them. I have all the confidence in the world they'll step up and do that.''
Harrison Central won the jayvee contest, 49-42.
UNION LOCAL (55) - McDiffitt 4 3-4 13; T.Tipton 3 0-0 6; Dunfee 1 0-0 2; Porter 2 5-6 10; C.Tipton 0 0-0 0; Paulick 3 0-0 6; McKivitz 7 4-7 18. Totals 20 12-17 55. HARRISON CENTRAL (41) - K.Mitchell 2 0-2 4; Kowalski 4 0-0 10; Johnson 0 0-0 0; B.Mitchell 1 2-2 4; Rutter 0 0-0 0; Redish 2 0-0 5; Evans 1 0-0 3; Yoho 2 0-2 5; Olmstead 3 1-2 10. Totals 13 3-8 41.
3-Point Goals: McDiffitt 2, Porter; Olmstead 3, Kowalski 2, Redish, Evans, Yoho.