Brush Boys Basketball Tops St. Edward
'Poised' Andre Harris leads No. 4 Brush past No. 2 St. Edward, 81-74
on December 18, 2018 10:29 PM, updated December 19, 2018 2:06 AM
LYNDHURST, Ohio — Andre Harris chased down a loose basketball near the top of the perimeter, split two defenders and crossed over on two steps (Euro style) in front of a third defender and finished off a left-handed finger roll.
The sequence late in the fourth quarter Tuesday night propelled Brush, the fourth-ranked team in this week's cleveland.com Top 25, to an 81-74 win vs. No. 2 St. Edward.
Harris, a 6-foot-3 senior guard and Wright State recruit, finished with a game-high 25 points. Senior point guard D.J. Dial added 24, while 6-9 junior center John Hugley put up 16 points and 18 rebounds for the Arcs (5-0).
This might have been the best performance by a Brush basketball team since coach and former Ohio Mr. Basketball winner Chet Mason took over in 2015. He thought about it, then concluded it was the most consistent effort by any of his teams.
He's had Harris and Dial for all four years. With them playing St. Edward (3-2) in front of a packed gym at Brush, Harris displayed an assertiveness his coach had not seen until a few months ago. Mason thought back to September, when Harris signed his letter of intent with Wright State.
"Once I signed my letter of intent, the confidence was like I'm the guy," said Mason, who played in the early 2000s at Miami (Ohio). "Andre has that mentality now."
St. Edward coach Eric Flannery called it poise.
"He did some tremendous things out there," Flannery said, "and so many things were happening so fast out between their guys, it was almost hard to tell who was doing what in certain moments. Once again, it's a pretty talented bunch that they have."
Harris' play for that loose ball in the final two minutes was one of those plays that happened "so fast."
Flannery's Eagles led only during an early portion of the first quarter, but pulled closer every time Brush built a lead of six or eight points. Harris' Eurostep into a left-handed finger roll pushed the Brush lead to 73-65 with about 1:50 left.
Harris also drew a few charges, put down a two-handed slam and rescued plays likely to go awry for the Arcs.
"I don't think I've ever seen him like that," Dial said. "That's that mentality. He's showing growth. That's one of the best players in the state right there."
Mason added, "The confidence that he has now is through the roof. That's big for any player. That's 60 percent of the battle."
Harris thinks it's more motivation than confidence.
"I put a different mindset in my head that I know next year I'm going to have to compete against older kids for minutes and spots," he said. "I'm not trying to play like a regular high schooler. I've gotta prepare for the D-I level, so everything I do, I do 10 times harder now."
That effort helped send St. Edward to a two-game losing streak after a 77-74 loss Saturday at Lima Senior. The Eagles are off until a Dec. 27 trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and four days of games at the Beachball Classic.
Flannery hopes the trip builds more teamwork and fewer isolation plays, which he said he has allowed with his experienced group. Three of his four most experienced players scored Tuesday in double figures, led by senior guard Demetrius Terry's 19 points, junior Grant Huffman's 17 and Devontae Blanton's 14.
"We're continuing trying to find somebody else," Flannery said. "You're going to find guys here and there, and I think once we find that rotation and find those guys, we're going to be pretty good."
Flannery liked the efforts he got from Josh Ogle, who knocked down a pair of corner 3-pointers, and backup point guard Josiah Knight. Conversely, Mason liked what saw from a few of his role players.
Freshman Elmore James knocked down two free throws with 13.9 seconds left, pushing the lead up to four points. Junior Corey Floyd added 11 points and hit all five of his free throws. Brush, which next plays Friday at Western Reserve Conference-rival Madison, hit 24-of-27 free throws.
The Arcs won their first four games by at least 26 points, so their toughest test did not faze them.
"I feel like we still got more left," Dial said.
Mason estimated 13 Division I college coaches were in attendance for this one, including Cleveland State coach Dennis Felton and a Louisville assistant. They brought out the best in Harris.
"I love games like this," he said, "bright lights and all of the fans here. I love games like that."
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