COLUMBUS – Right spot, right time.
Damian Eargle collected an air-balled three-point attempt from Warren Harding teammate Desmar Jackson in the closing seconds Saturday afternoon and went up strong for the game winning basket at the buzzer, helping the Raiders edge the Zanesville Blue Devils 60-58 Saturday afternoon in the Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic at Value City Arena.
“I knew the shot was going to be short and I knew the defender would know too,” Eargle said. “I used my left hand to tip the ball and my right to push the defender away.”
Jackson claimed team MVP honors by posting 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals for the Raiders. Sheldon Brogdon gathered 19 points and Eargle had 12 points, seven rebounds and five blocks on the inside.
“These kids weren’t going to quit,” Warren Harding coach Steve Arnold said. “They were going to keep fighting till the end.
“We were a little careless with the ball at times, but the kids stayed with it and got the win.”
Logan Aronhalt led Zanesville (11-1) with 18 points and five rebounds. Junior Joe Prati collected the team MVP trophy with 17 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Cedric Harris added 11 points and four steals for the Blue Devils.
“As Joe continues to develop and become even better on offense, he is going to take some of the pressure away from Logan,” Zanesville coach Scott Aronhalt said. “I’ve been saying this for a while, but Joe continues to work hard and is one of the better juniors in our area.”
Warren Harding (10-0) seemed to have the game in hand during the fourth period, scoring on five straight possessions to grab a 58-46 lead with 2:35 remaining in the contest. Eargle and Brogdon both scored two baskets on the Raider run. What made the feat even more impressive was the fact Jackson was on the bench with four fouls.
“What was amazing was Desmar was on the bench with four fouls, but the kids expanded the lead. They battled through some adversity,” Arnold said. “Our defense was able to pick up its intensity during that stretch too, because Desmar had to be careful with four fouls against him.”
Logan Aronhalt started to chip away at the Raiders lead by dropping in a pair of free throws and putting down a strong dunk. Following a free throw by Zanesville’s Brandon Mills, Andre Harris came up with an old-fashion three-point play on a steal and layup and Logan Aronhalt banked in a shot, cutting the Warren Harding lead down to two.
Zanesville then tied the game with 12.5 seconds left on two free throws from Prati.
“Cedric (Harris) and Logan are our leaders and they were able to keep the rest of our kids composed,” Scott Aronhalt said. “The kids worked hard to tie the game and give us a chance.”
The Blue Devils established momentum early in the game, using a powerful throw down from Aronhalt and seven points from Prati to earn a 14-10 lead after the first quarter.
Warren Harding charged ahead in the second quarter, thanks to making all nine of its free throw attempts during the period and a dozen points from Jackson.
The Raiders finished the game with a commanding 44-30 advantage on the boards, but had 23 turnovers to 12 for Zanesville.
“We’ve outrebounded about every team we’ve played,” Arnold said. “We have some tall kids with long arms that can cause some problems for the opposition.”
“They outrebounded us (10-8) on the offensive glass, but the difference was they made their second attempts and we missed most of ours,” Scott Aronhalt said. “Our defense is good and can get a little better, but we need to work on our offense with setting some more screens and making more of our shots inside.”