Haraway scores 29 as Norwalk wraps season 29-1
Norwalk 65, Watterson 58
Columbus Bishop Watterson certainly knows how the Norwalk Truckers feel following Saturday morning’s Division II state championship game. A year ago, it was the Watterson Eagles winning its first-ever boys basketball state title in its first appearance, and a year later the Truckers did the same. Unfortunately, for the Eagles, it was at their expense.
Norwalk, a team that has won 76 games over the past three seasons, used a rugged defense, timely defensive rebounding, key free throws, and great point guard play to hold on for a, 65-58, victory in a game where the two teams couldn’t have played any harder.
In a game where the Truckers (29-1) looked like they were going to run away from the defending state champions leading by as much as, 33-19, in the 3rd quarter, the Eagles showed why champions die hard. Watterson cut Norwalk’s lead to five and six points on several occasions, and even had the margin down to just four points (61-57) late in the 4th quarter. Though, the Eagles couldn’t get any closer as the winners always found a way to make a play in the clutch.
Talented senior point guard Ben Haraway, who didn’t have a bucket in the 2nd half after scoring 15 points in the 1st on 6-of-8 shooting, converted 14 freebies in the final 16 minutes finishing 15-of-19 at the line on the game. Classmate Jeff Thomas (Georgia State) came up with huge back-to-back baskets with the score showing, 50-45, to swing momentum back in Norwalk’s favor.
The Truckers were forced to make big play-after-play thanks to Watterson’s seniors Cody Calhoun and Matt Hughes, who performed like warriors. Calhoun continuously attacked the basket and Hughes did the same along with attacking the offensive boards. Calhoun scored 13 points in the 2nd half, which included 11 in the final frame. Hughes tallied 13 as well.
Senior Matt Lehmann, who was stifled most of the day by the defense played from senior Jordan Johnson, shook loose in the 4th quarter and was able to bury a pair of treys.
The Eagles, a team that usually dictates tempo, was forced to play at Norwalk’s pace today, which is a big reason for their 33 percent shooting. Watterson was just 4-of-24 from three-point range. In addition, the Maroon and Gold is built to play patient on offense and execute when its ready, but when the lead becomes double digits it’s hard to play that style.
The Eagles are the team usually forcing offenses to one-and-done situations, but today it was the Truckers limiting Watterson.
Haraway, who dazzled in the 1st half with his basket drives and pull-up jumpers, paced the winners with 29 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a trio of key blocks. Thomas, a bigtime threat from the wing at 6-foot-5, added 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior Grant Hull totaled eight points, four assists, and three rebounds. Johnson added four points and a quartet of rebounds along with his educational effort on defense. Breck Turner, a seldom talked about junior, came up huge with five crucial points and nine key rebounds.
Watterson got a team-high 23 points and 10 rebounds from Hughes, and 15 by Calhoun. Lehmann chipped in 11 points and five rebounds.
Norwalk out rebounded Watterson, 36-22. The Truckers made seven more free throws, which happened to be the difference in final margin.
Watterson’s two-year run concludes with a (54-3) record, which includes a state championship and now a runner-up.
Stat of the Game
Watterson shot 4-of-24 from the three-point range.
Player of the Game
Ben Haraway finished with 29 points, which included a 15-of-19 showing at the foul line.
Rarely does Watterson play a team that plays as hard as it does, and today it ran into a team that happened to, while having the two most talented kids on the floor in Haraway and Thomas.
Photos by Gary Housteau (JJHuddle.com/Bucknuts.com)