Harrison Central Huskies take down visiting Big Reds

Photo by Kim North Harrison Central’s Hayden Cassidy shoots over top of Bellaire’s Caleb Jewell (1) during Tuesday night’s Ohio Division III boys’ basketball sectional tournament game in Cadiz. Cassidy scored 27 points as the Huskies won, 74-30. Also pictured are the Huskies’ Clayton Vermillion (23) and the Big Reds’ Mayson Sochor (14) as referee Michael Lee looks on.

CADIZ — Harrison Central head coach Aaron Foldi wasn’t worried one bit about how his senior-led team would bounce back from a tough loss last week to rival St. Clairsville.

The second-seeded Huskies (17-5) didn’t disappoint their leader with a quick start, strong rebounding performance and lock-down defense in a 74-30 rout of visiting No. 13 Bellaire (5-18) in an Ohio Division III boys’ basketball sectional tournament contest Tuesday night.

Bellaire Senior leader Hayden Cassidy sparked the early surge 16 first-quarter points that saw Harrison Central snap a 6-all stalemate with a 16-6 run. Cassidy was responsible for 14 of those as the hosts led 22-12 and were never threatened.

“We talked at halftime about how we came out and hit shots in the first quarter and our defensive energy led to our offense,” Foldi explained. “These guys bounced back and I’m really proud of them, especially the seniors. Tonight the guys on the bench got in and did their job.

“I really enjoyed that team win tonight.”

The Huskies led 39-14 off the glass as senior Clayton Vermillion muscled his way to 10 boards to go along with a dozen points for a double-double. Of the 39 rebounds, 16 came off the offensive glass and many resulted in second-chance points.

“Their size, athletic ability and skill came to the forefront quickly,” veteran Bellaire head coach J.R. Battista said of the Huskies. “We really didn’t have any answer for it. We had a lot of good shots, but we’d miss and they’d go down and score.”

Defensively, Harrison Central held Bellaire to single digits after the first quarter, including just one bucket in the fourth quarter. The Big Reds were 10-for-32 from the floor (31 percent) and just 4 of 10 from the foul line. They also charted 13 turnovers, with five coming in the second quarter when the Huskies pulled away.

Leading 40-20 at the half, Harrison Central used a 24-2 run in the second half to institute the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s ‘mercy-rule’ as the game ended with a running clock.

Cassidy led all scorers with 27, including a perfect 8-for-8 at the free throw stripe. Mykel Quito had a solid performance in the paint with nine rebounds and eight points. Brady Elliott and Daniel Ody evenly split 14.

“We stress about how big we are and our physicality, so we have to rebound the ball well,” Foldi noted. “Ten offensive rebounds in a game is always our goal.”

Foldi was also talking ‘turkey’ after the game, but it had nothing to do with the November holiday.

“We call three defensive stops in a row a ‘turkey,'” he said in referencing the bowling term of three consecutive strikes. “I think we had four ‘turkeys’ tonight.”

With the victory, the Huskies will remain at home for Friday night’s co-sectional final against neighboring ninth-seeded Barnesville, which knocked off No. 5 Buckeye Trail in two overtimes, 55-46, on Tuesday. Tip is at 7. Harrison Central won both regular-season matchups with the Shamrocks.

For Battista, the loss ends a frustrating season for his team and its three seniors.

“I give the kids credit for staying together and hanging in there to fight until the bitter end. Even though the score looks bad, the kids were fighting until the final buzzer,” he praised. “Mayson showed a lot of heart coming back after breaking his leg. Mac Mac did a great job of keeping the team together, and Luca (D’Aquila) hurt his ankle early in the season. They all toughed it out, though.”


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