Harrison Central rolls past Bellaire

BELLAIRE — When Harrison Central starts getting up and down the court and scoring in transition, the Huskies are hard to beat. Bellaire found that out for the second time this season.

Tuesday night inside the ‘House of Champions’ on Guernsey Street, Justin Clifford’s high-scoring squad snapped a 4-all deadlock with a 16-6 run to end the first quarter and never looked back. The Huskies (7-1) prevailed 85-41 for the sixth straight win after their lone setback at Martins Ferry in game number two.

“We had a little bit of a slow start but once we started pressing and playing a little more up-tempo we kind of took over,” Clifford assessed. “We have to play at different speeds on defense. We did that a little better tonight.”

Sophomore sensation Kobe Mitchell helped the Huskies get out of the gates with 10 first-quarter points. Caden Dalton added five and Evan Stine four as the visitors held a 20-10 advantage after one period.

With Mitchell adding 10 more in the second quarter and Gavin Muckle netting seven, Harrison Central put it on cruise control in leading 45-17 at the half.

The Big Reds (2-10) were guilty of 12 first-half turnovers while only mustering up 13 shots from the floor.

They can shoot it,” Bellaire head coach Ben Doyle said of Harrison Central. “They can really shoot it.”

Harrison Central blistered the nets at a 61-percent clip (33-54) while Bellaire could only manage to get 32 shots off.

“We play hard. The effort is always there,” Doyle said. “It’s the same problems that have been haunting us all season. We have trouble scoring the ball. We have trouble putting the ball in the bucket and that’s something we continue to stress, along with taking care of the ball. We’re trying to cut down on the opponents’ transition points, but the turnovers don’t help there.”

The sweet-shooting Mitchell finished with a game-high 31 points despite not playing most of the fourth quarter. He was backed by a trio of teammates in double digits, including Stine who charted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Muckle chipped in 13 and Dalton 11 to go with six steals and five assists.

“When our guards score we’re not bad. I know that’s easy to say, but it’s the truth,” Clifford noted. “We’ve got a lot of players with a lot of time invested in this season. We’re not going to stand there and pass it 30 times. We’re going to take the best shot we can get. We’ve got some guys that can shot it. We’ve got some guys that spread you out before attacking and kicking it out to a wide-open guy.”

Jacob Marthaler led Bellaire with 11 points. AJ McCarthy added 10 off the bench. Trenton Wilson had seven rebounds.

Harrison Central returns to the John W. Stephenson Center Friday night as Martins Ferry visits. Bellaire, meanwhile, treks to Monroe Central the same night.