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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2007
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Brewer players Courtney Scott, left, and Morgan Crawley, right, battle for a rebound against West Morgan's Kelley Seal in Trinity on Thursday night. Brewer won 83-25.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Brewer players Courtney Scott, left, and Morgan Crawley, right, battle for a rebound against West Morgan's Kelley Seal in Trinity on Thursday night. Brewer won 83-25.

Harbin's late heroics
West Morgan guard sinks 7
points in victory over Brewer

By Bradley Handwerger
bhandwerger@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

TRINITY — Grant Harbin insists he wasn't looking to shoot the ball.

Harbin claims he was looking for a teammate to pass to as the clock quickly ticked its way to all zeroes.

No matter, West Morgan head coach Ricky Bowling doesn't really care. He'll take the layup any way he can get it.

Harbin's underhanded scoop layup tied West Morgan's Thursday night game against Brewer at 55, then he scored five more points as the Rebels overcame a late deficit to win 65-61 in overtime.

"I didn't even look to score on that last basket," said Harbin, who finished with seven points, all coming in the final 41/2 minutes of the game. "I was looking to pass the ball like I had all night. That's probably the biggest seven points (this season). Definitely the most important."

Said Bowling: "In the past, he's throwing it up and hoping it goes in. This time, it looked like he had confidence he was going to make it."

West Morgan (16-8) then finished the game off at the free-throw line, going 8 of 14 in overtime from the charity stripe. Too, Brewer couldn't seem to find its range, making only two of its eight shots from the floor.

At the start, it didn't even appear close to likely that Harbin would have a chance to be a hero. West Morgan took a 23-8 first-quarter lead, and led 32-22 at halftime behind Phillip Powell's 13 points. Powell finished with 18, but was held in check the rest of the way, partly because of foul trouble.

The Rebels, though, couldn't contain Rusty Boyd, who put Brewer (10-15) on his back and kept his team in the game. He scored a game-high 25 points, of which nine came in the first half.

Brewer began eating into West Morgan's lead in the second quarter with tough, pressuring defense.

The Rebels didn't make a bucket in the second eight minutes until there was 1:47 left in the half.

In that time, Boyd scored seven points as the Patriots cut the score to 23-17.

"Our kids battled," Brewer coach Sam Brown said. "We're in a situation where we find ourselves playing from behind a lot. I liked our kids fight. We haven't had that in the last three games or so."

When Brewer's Kohl Sowder and Jeremy Widener hit back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the third, suddenly West Morgan's lead was down to 40-38.

Brewer took its first lead with 1:17 to go in regulation when Sowder made circus-like 3-footer, going underneath the defender, then tossing up a right-handed shot with his back turned away from the basket. He was fouled and made the free throw, and the Patriots led 53-51.

West Morgan failed to tie the game on the ensuing possession, and Sowder converted both attempts on a one-and-one situation.

The Rebels' Powell then cut into Brewer's lead when his layup followed a Micah Randolph miss with 27.9 to go. But he fouled out immediately afterward when he grabbed Boyd in the backcourt.

Yet the foul didn't end up hurting the Rebels as Boyd missed the front end of his one-and-one opportunity. West Morgan's Randolph grabbed the rebound and got the ball to Harbin, who tied the game with eight seconds remaining.

"That's a situation where the guy stepped up and makes a great play," Brown said. "I don't know what else we could have done about it."

West Morgan improved to 2-3 in overtime games and made amends for an overtime loss a week ago to Priceville in the Morgan County Tournament. The Rebels led by 17 points in that one before the Bulldogs whittled the lead away and won.

This time, Bowling's players held on.

"It's huge because we've had this happen to us quite a few times this year," Bowling said. "We've played way too many close games. It seems like it'll be close one way or another."

Randolph and Brandon Jackson each scored 11 points for West Morgan.

Brewer girls 83, West Morgan 25: Fourteen Lady Patriots scored, led by Courtney Scott's 15 points, and Brewer improved to 18-7. Brewer led 24-9 at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.

Now the Lady Patriots must turn around and play Friday at Decatur. Head coach Ricky Allen said that he's not worried about playing back-to-back nights, and, in fact, Thursday night's game will help his team focus.

"This game, the way we came out, it gets you in the right mindset that you want to be in," Allen said. The relative ease with which Brewer won helped Allen find positives.

"They got better tonight," he said. "Just getting themselves ready to go, they got better. You always want to play better, but we're getting better all the time. A month ago, we started working on taking our time and playing smart basketball."

Emily Dabbs added 14 points for Brewer. Mikaila Etheredge's eight points led West Morgan.

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