Devils, Pirates Show Pedigree In Uptempo Duel
BY DAVE SHEA
HARRISVILLE - Before Monday's nonleague regular season finale for both teams host Harrisville and OFA received their 2020 Houli Awards for winning the NAC West and NAC Central Boys Basketball Championships. Each year the East, West and Central Division champions are presented with Houli Awards named after New York State Hall of Fame Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Hourihan of Canton.
Both the reigning New York State Class D Champion Harrisville and OFA posted undefeated division seasons. Harrisville (16-4) won its third straight undefeated titlles and fifth in the last six years and OFA (16-4) won its eight straight Central Division crown.
In the game that followed OFA prevailed in an entertaining, uptempo matchup 90-74 which showcased the two teams' championship metal and pedigree.
"Great high school game and it was a game of spurts. Both teams played well offensively. We shot the three well tonight and played much better defensively in the fourth quarter. We had four guys in double figures and one with nine," said OFA Coach Mark Henry.
"We really needed a game like this."
The Blue Devils erased five-point deficit in the first quarter and methodically built a 69-55 lead after three quarters led by Jackson Jones' smooth inside presence which produced 24 points, 19 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal and MeSean Johnson's explosive backcourt package tallying 22 points with 7-8 free throw shooting, 12 assists and six rebounds.
Johnson sparked OFA spurt to its biggest lead with two putbacks in an 11-point third quarter.
The trio of Trent Sargent (4 3s, 16 points), Connor Griffith (3 3s, 12 points, 4 steals) and Harry Powers (3 3s 9 points, 4 steals) produced 10 3-pointers. Brogan LaRose came off bench and converted his first three shots and scored six point 3-4 shooting.
Despite being limited to a precious few offensive rebounds the Pirates staged a series of comeback efforts led by the strong finishes of the guard trio of Jadon Sullivan who scored a game-high 26, Nathan Schmitt who tallied 21 and the long range shooting of Nolan Parow who buried four 3s in a 16-point effort. Sullivan scored eight points in the fourth quarter and converted a three-point play to cut the difference to 72-66 with 5:10 to play.
"This was a great game for us. We didn't have any answer for Jackson Jones but I don't think we will see a big man like that or a team as good as OFA as we go into Class D play. We did a pretty good staying in front if MeSean Johnson but he got his points," said Harrisville Coach Brian Coloney.
"We struggled when we had to go zone andwhen Adam Szlamcynski got in foul trouble but we hung there and got within six points in the fourth quarter. It was a great game, with a nice crowd and a great atmosphere. That is what it is all about."
Johnson answered with two free throws and Powers buried back-to-back 3-pointers with the second at the end of the shot clock and Jones converted an offensive rebound for an 82-68 lead, The lead hovered at 84-72 when Griffith settled the issue with another 3 as the shot clock expired with 1:09 to play.
Adam Szlamcynski tallied six points in the post for Harrisville, Will Taylor buried a three pointers and Cadyn LaPlatney scored two points inside.
"It was great to see Harry Powers hit two big 23s in the fourth quarter. Griff stepped up and played well with two very early fouls and Trent Sargent did a nice job defensively in the fourth quarter," said Coach Henry.
"Harrisville has an outstanding team and Jadon Sullivan is an outstanding player."
OFA will begin defense of its Section 10 Class B title on Thursday at home hosting the winner of tonight's four-five seed game between Salmon River and Potsdam. Harrisville will begin the defense of its Class D sectional and state title on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. at the SUNY Canton meeting the winner of opening round game between Parishville-Hopkinton and Hammond.
NOTE: In photo below Harrisville captains Adam Szlamcynski, Jadon Sullivan, Nolan Parow and Nate Schmitt and OFA captains Brogan LaRose, Jackson Jones, MeSean Johnson, Connor Griffith and Harry Powers receive Houli Awards as the NAC West and Central Division Championships.