Olivet leaned on senior Quintan Harris when the game mattered most, and the 6-foot-8 big man did not disappoint on Friday.
Harris was the catalyst offensively in the fourth quarter and came up with the big defensive play of the night as the Eagles held off Pennfield, 48-44, in KVA boys’ basketball action.
Harris scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the final period, and came up with a key block inside the final minute before he iced the game with a pair of free throws.
“We play as a team. This was really a team win,” said Harris, who is committed to play at Division II Michigan Tech. “This was our seventh game, and our first game at home, so it’s nice to get the win. “
Olivet improved to 4-3 overall, while Pennfield dropped its early-season record to 2-4.
” We’ve been in every single game,” said Pennfield head coach Steve Grimes. “They play their butts off, and the difference tonight was the same as the Schoolcraft game, their scholarship basketball player did it for them. We caught it early in the game, did a good job on (Harris), but late in the game when he had to score, he just scored.”
Pennfield senior forward Darin Blocker gave the Panthers a big spark to open the game when he rattled off his team’s first eight points.
But Olivet adjusted defensively, and Harris fired up the home crowd when his first basket came on a two-handed dunk.
Harris, who also had 13 rebounds and three blocks, was limited to just six points at halftime. But the Eagles stayed in the game with a 27-26 halftime deficit, due to some balanced scoring.
“Our guards have gutted it out,” said Olivet head coach Brian Dartt. “We don’t have guards who can shoot, dribble, pass, defend all in one. But we have one guy who can do three of those, and another that can do three other ones. And if you can mesh those around ‘Q’ (Harris), then we’ll be pretty successful.”
Panthers’ senior guard Davontae Miller did everything he could to lift his team to a victory. He scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half.
Pennfield senior guard Jacob Gillett nailed a 3-pointer with only 23 seconds left to cut Olivet’s lead to 45-44, but the Eagles put the game away with Harris’ block and free throws.
Senior point guard Brayden Bennett had a well-rounded game for Pennfield with eight points, four steals, three assists and five rebounds. Blocker finished with nine rebounds to go with his eight points.
“The theme of the night was no moral victories,” Grimes said. “We’re good enough to beat this team. I’m not going to say anything is a moral victory any more, but I am going to say I’ve been in this gym and had a heckuva lot worse time before.”
Olivet senior guard/forward Nick Coolidge had seven points, three assists and five rebounds, and fellow senior guard Brett Whitely tallied seven points.
“The KVA right now is really tough,” Dartt said. “Even though Pennfield has four losses, they are one of the best teams in our league, they just have played in some tough games. Schoolcraft pushed us around on Tuesday, but I think we can get them. But who knows, it’s a fun league.”