The plan for both teams was to take away the other squad’s best player.
And the plan worked.
However, it was Harper Creek that came up with enough of a ‘Plan B’ to get a win and advance in this district tourney.
Harper Creek defeated Marshall, 58-38, in this Class B boys’ basketball district semifinal at Pennfield High School on Wednesday. Harper Creek, which improves to 9-12, moves on to play host Pennfield in the district title game 7 p.m. Friday.
“Tonight was huge. We have built some momentum at the end of the season and we have come up with a different mindset and it’s cool to see our team take that step mentally,” Harper Creek coach Matt Bowling said. “I was proud of our execution tonight. It wasn’t always pretty, but we did a heckuva job winning the game and can’t say enough about the kids and how they executed the game plan.”
Harper Creek came in with a game plan to limit Marshall’s leading scorer Robby Ranville and the Beavers did a pretty good job, holding the senior to just two points in the first half and 10 for the game in his first game back after being out with an injury.
Marshall had a similar game plan, looking to keep the Beavers’ Josh Bass in check after the big man had 31 points and 21 rebounds in the district opener on Monday. The Redhawks also did a good job, holding Bass to just four points.
“Big part of our game plan was to stop Josh Bass and for the most part we did that. I couldn’t be more happy with our effort there,” Marshall coach Nick Dent said. “The other part of our game plan was to get Robby his shots, but they did a great job of limiting his shots and making it very difficult for him just like they did the last time we saw them.
“Despite that, we kept the game close for awhile, but we just couldn’t hit enough shots in the end to get over the hump.”
Despite the 20-point win by Harper Creek, the game was tight throughout. Marshall trailed just 30-27 with 5:30 remaining in the fourth quarter after a 3-pointer by the Redhawks’ Trevor Travis.
However, Harper Creek started to pull away from there with a 7-0 run to make it 37-27 as the Beavers took advantage of a Marshall technical foul to hit four straight free throws with 3:35 remaining.
Marshall continued to hang around, but another technical foul on the Redhawks led to another four-point possession on free throws to give Harper Creek a 47-36 lead with 1:39 remaining. That spurt was the start of a 15-2 run to end the game for the Beavers to create the one-sided final score.
“I was really proud of our mental toughness at the end. It would have been easy to crumble when it got to five, but we stayed tough and stayed the course,” Bowling said.
Harper Creek came up with a balanced scoring effort with James Cadena getting a team-high 15 points and seven rebounds to lead the Beavers with Nate Hicks and Baylie Robinson each scoring 13 as Alec Fisher added seven points and five assists.
Marshall ends the season at 11-10 with Landry Reynolds finishing with a team-high 12 points with Ranville and Travis each adding 10 points.