Mitchell fuels Harrison past Bellaire
BELLAIRE — It had been nine days since Harrison Central had played a boys’ basketball game. The long layoff didn’t affect the Huskies one bit.
Kobe Mitchell had a quiet 30 points while Sam Santilli (17) and Alexis Flor (10) combined for 27 as the visitors spoiled Bellaire’s home opener, 73-52, Friday night inside the ‘House of Champions’ on Guernsey Street.
“We talked about getting out of the gates early and not being sluggish,” Harrison Central head coach Justin Clifford advised. “I thought we did a good job of that. I’m proud of them.
“They obviously tried to stop Kobe by running a lot of guys at him but we had some other guys step up,” Clifford said of Bellaire’s defensive strategy. “Moving forward we’re going to need those other guys to step up.”
Mitchell, the Huskies returning junior all-stater who eclipsed the 1,000 point barrier during his sophomore season, netted eight points in the first quarter as the visitors built a 17-13 advantage as the Big Reds’ Owen Ward cashed in a three-point bucket ahead of the buzzer.
After Harrison Central’s Cale McAfee knocked down a bonus bomb to start the second quarter, Mitchell reeled off a dozen straight as the margin ballooned to 36-24 at the half.
With the Big Reds double-teaming Mitchell with and without the ball, the Huskies went inside to Sam Santilli in the third quarter. The 6-4 junior responded with nine of his 17 points. He also had all four of his rebounds during the stretch as the lead soared to 21 twice.
“We know these other guys are capable. We talk about it all the time,” Clifford added. “It’s no secret that teams are going to try and take Kobe away, so those other guys are going to have to step up like they did tonight.”
Seniors Trenton Wilson (8) and A.J. McCarthy (6) kept Bellaire within striking distance as it trailed 53-41 entering the fourth panel. baskets by the duo early in the final quarter pulled the Big Reds to within eight, 55-47, but Santilli meshed a pair of free throws and Cruz Capers went coast-to-coast after a steal to restore a 12-point margin at 59-47.
The Huskies would score 14 of the final 19 points for the lop-sided victory.
“We played hard. We executed the (game) plan as well as we could’ve,” Bellaire head coach J.R. Battista said. “Kobe Mitchell is a big problem. He is a future college basketball player. He’s very good. We tried to double him but he made plays for other guys. He raises their level of play and makes everybody else better.
“We really did play hard, but like I’ve always said, you don’t get medals for trying. You get medals for winning.”
Flor also excelled for the Huskies on the soccer field. The native of Paraguay added five rebounds and tons of energy when he was on the floor.
“We know he has the skills,” Clifford noted. “We knew this would be his type of game.”
Mitchell, who didn’t score in the third quarter, completed his double-double with 10 rebounds. He also charted four assists.
Zwack, who was saddled with foul troubles, led Bellaire with 17 points. McCarthy added 14 and Wilson had 13 to go with a game-best 14 rebounds.
“Trenton has that capability. he does, but he needs to realize that,” Battista said. “He’s a very good athlete.”
Bellaire had 19 turnovers, with nearly all of them being of the unforced variety. Meanwhile, Harrison Central only committed six.
The Huskies host Martins Ferry Tuesday while the Big Reds entertain Barnesville the same night.
Harrison Central completed the sweep with a win in the JV game.