By Ben Murphy
They didn’t get a win for their efforts but the Harrison boys’ basketball team continued to show marked improvement Monday night, falling 56-50 in a non-conference boys’ basketball game.
“(Lake City) is a very good team with good size and very athletic,” Harrison head coach Jim Hoshield said. “Our boys came out on fire and ready to play, like I knew they could. Our full court press was getting turnovers and got our offense moving.”
Lake City appeared to be in control of the game early on, opening to an 8-1 lead. Bret Coughlin gave the Hornets the answer they needed by hitting a three-pointer to make it 8-4 and Coughlin sank another three moments before the end of the first to give Harrison a 13-10 lead at the end of one.
“Coughlin again came out with that look in his eyes that this was his night,” Hoshield said. “He hit two big threes early in the first few minutes. Lake City fought back, we traded baskets through the first half.”
The Hornets fell behind 17-15 in the second quarter but Coughlin hit another three to put the Hornets up 18-17, though the Trojans pulled back ahead 26-20 late in the half.
The Hornets closed the second quarter on a mini 4-0 run, getting hoops by Coughlin on a turn-around 16-footer and Matt Haskell buried a short pull-up jumper to make it 26-24 at the break.
Two more threes by Coughlin early in the third quarter helped keep the Hornets within two at 32-30 and Harrison eventually took the lead on a drive to the hoop by Thomas Nunnally, who made it 35-33.
Later, Haskell hit a three that put Harrison up 40-36 and Clay Dennis scored on a lay-in from an entry pass by Haskell to give Harrison a 42-36 lead entering the fourth.
The Trojans tied the game up at 42-all early in the fourth, but Coughlin yet again hit a three to give Harrison a 45-42 lead and Nunnally followed that up with a drive to the hoop that made it 47-42.
“Coughlin was a determined ball player,” Hoshield said. “He wanted the ball, he put the team on his back and played like the winner he is… He is another coach on the floor.”
Momentum began to swing in favor of Lake City the rest of the night however, as the Trojans netted an and-one play to make it 47-45 and later pulled ahead 49-47.
Late in the quarter Coughlin corralled a deep offensive rebound and drove to the hoop for a bucket to tie it back up at 49-all. The Hornets had a pair of chances to win the game in regulation, but had both fail, including a desperation half-court shot that hit the backboard to move on to overtime.
Lake City scored the first four points of overtime to lead 53-49, then after a Michael Taylor free-throw made it 53-50, the Trojans closed the game with three free-throws to make the final 56-50.
“In overtime we had opportunities but did not take advantage of them,” Hoshield said. “We played a great game, the boys were fired up. I feel that we might be becoming a team that is able to play hard all 32 minutes. They know all the hard work they have put in is starting to pay off. Don’t count us out yet.”
Coughlin hit six three-pointers and finished with 25 points, Dennis had 12 points, Haskell had six, Nunnally had four and Taylor had three.
On Friday, the Hornets hosted Gladwin in Jack Pine Conference play, falling 56-39.
“The boys came out with the most intensity they have all year, putting on a full-court press that created some turnovers early,” Hoshield said. “We have shown at times we can play with anyone in the league then there are times we couldn’t play against the eighth grade team. It is my responsibility to find that on-button to keep these boys on track. We will keep working, I guarantee that.”
Gladwin jumped to a 20-9 lead after the first quarter, despite seven first quarter points by Coughlin. The Hornets scored just eight points in the second quarter as they fell behind 35-17 at the half and trailed 47-31 entering the fourth. Harrison got field-goals by Haskell, Nunnally, Coughlin, Taylor and Todd Stier in the third.
Zach Nowland and Cody Forster both hit threes for Harrison in the fourth, yet the Hornets could not get back into the game, falling 56-39.
Coughlin led the Hornets with 15 points, Nowland and Taylor both had four, Forster had three, Stier, Dennis, Yager, Nunnally, Trent Searight and Haskell all had two while Danilo Vukcevic hit one-of-two free-throws for one point.
Harrison (1-6 overall, 1-4 JPC) hosted Houghton Lake on Wednesday, host Beaverton tonight (Friday) and plays at Marion on Monday.