Story & Photos
By Carl Holcomb
East Hardy’s Brett Tharp netted his 1,000th career point during a 36-point game-high scoring performance to send Paw Paw out of the Den in the Region II Section 2 quarterfinals with a 75-49 victory last Monday in Baker.
“This was a little more of what I had in mind. In the first half we got into doing some of our old ways not putting pressure on defense and letting them dictate and reacting to what they did,” East Hardy Coach Chris Hahn commented.
“That’s not what we do best. What we do best is forcing them into something. We put an emphasis on that in the second half and the kids came out and executed it. We were able to stretch it out. When you get turnovers, rebounds, and run outs, it separates real quick. That was the difference. We were able to get rebounds and push it up the floor and get turnovers and push it up the floor. They couldn’t do that against us and that was the difference between this game and the last time we played them. We were able to run our style of game. We played them a week ago and we didn’t play terrible, they just played good. Tonight they played the same and we were able to execute.”
Coming off a steal by Corey McDonald, Tharp tipped in the ensuing rebound creating the 1,000th point at the 2:23 mark of the third period which put the Cougars up 46-30 and moments later Tharp added a 3-pointer.
“Every night you know what you are getting. Brett is a very emotional kid. You know you are going to get the passion and you know you’re going to get the effort and 99 percent of the time you’re getting the execution. He just goes out there and does what you tell him, because he knows we will put him in a position to be successful. When you have the athleticism that he has, I have had only one kid that came close to him athletically. He is a phenom. If he can harness that. He is getting the best defender plus the student section, plus the parents, everybody knows to come after him. The days he is in control, he is unstoppable. It’s just about him focusing on what he does best. There’s not a single player in single A who can stop him,” Coach Hahn remarked.
Tharp joins at least seven other 1,000-point boys basketball scorers in school history.
Paw Paw had kept the game close in the first half only trailing 32-28 at halftime, but the Pirates couldn’t swim out of the deep waters flooding in the third period.
It took just over a minute for the first field goal of the game to be made as both teams missed chances, then Tharp swiped the ball and scored off a tipped pass from Drew Kelican.
The Pirates answered on the next possession as Austin Bullett hit a jumper.
Tharp made a quick pass to Drew Kelican, who drained a 3-pointer at 6:24 for a 5-2 edge.
Paw Paw’s Christian Braithwaite scored the next two baskets to take a 6-5 lead at 5:07.
Kelican nailed another 3-pointer to regain the lead 8-6 off a pass from Aden Funkhouser at 4:51 of the first quarter.
Tharp and Ricky Robinson snatched defensive rebounds sandwiching the same by Paw Paw’s Landon Ridgeway, then McDonald scored on a layup.
Brent Mills made one free throw on the next Pirates series and Tharp got the board, then Bullett stole the ball and was fouled which created two foul shots, 10-9.
A floater by McDonald boosted the Cougars to a 12-9 lead at 3:17.
After a free throw by Bullett, McDonald grabbed a rebound and drew a foul leading to a pair of foul shots.
Both teams missed shots, then Braithwaite drilled a 3-pointer.
Mills blocked a shot, then Bullett picked up a foul before East Hardy missed and McDonald made a putback at 1:08 for a 16-13 edge which remained the same at the end of the frame as a handful of attempts went awry.
Funkhouser was standing out of bounds when receiving a pass to begin the second period, then Kelican got a defensive rebound.
Robinson got an offensive board, but the ensuing attempt missed and the ball was tipped in by Tharp for an old-fashioned three point play.
Braithwaite netted a basket for the Pirates for a 19-15 score at 6:44.
Jonathan Wolfe made a defensive rebound, then the ball was lost out of bounds and Bullett stole it back, but the next attempt was off kilter and Kelican got the rebound.
Wolfe blocked a shot, then the Cougars fumbled the ball out and Braithwaite nailed a 3-pointer, 19-18.
Tharp made one free throw, then Kelican blocked a shot and McDonald recovered the ball leading to an assist on Jesse Dove’s jumper along the baseline.
After a few missed baskets, Tharp stole the ball and drew a foul for one free throw.
Mills got the rebound and passed to Ridgeway for a 3-pointer.
Kelican snatched the next board and passed to Tharp for a jumper to go up 25-21 at 3:13.
After a jumper by Tharp, Paw Paw got field goals from Mills and Nicholas Hiett to slice the deficit to 27-26.
A minute elapsed with a handful of turnovers and finally a putback by McDonald at 1:03.
Paw Paw lost the ball out of bounds with defense by McDonald and Tharp, then McDonald assisted Kelican on a 3-pointer to make it 32-26 with 16 ticks on the clock.
Funkhouser blocked a shot and contact was determined for a foul as Ridgeway went to the line with one second left in the half connecting on both free throws for a 32-28 score at intermission.
Starting the second half, it turned into a soccer game with Braithwaite kicking the ball twice, then McDonald and Robinson grabbed rebounds (no hand penalties).
Ridgeway stole the ball and it was lost out of bounds, then McDonald passed to Tharp for a 3-pointer.
After an offensive foul on the Pirates, Funkhouser nailed a 3-pointer for a 38-28 lead at 6:28.
After a jumper by Mills, East Hardy went on an 11-0 run with Tharp scoring nine of the points and McDonald adding two as the milestone was reached during that span, 49-30.
Bullett sandwiched two field goals around a basket by Tharp at 1:13 for a 51-34 score.
After a block by Wolfe, Tharp drilled a 3-pointer and made a denial to close the quarter 54-35.
McDonald made two rebounds and a basket to begin the final stanza.
Dove swiped the ball and went in for a layup at 7:02 for a 58-35 advantage.
East Hardy applied pressure and McDonald stole the ball and made an ally-oop pass to Tharp for a 60-35 lead.
Tharp got a defensive rebound and Kelican drew a foul leading to two free throws.
Kelican snatched a defensive rebound and scored again off an assist from McDonald, 64-35.
Ridgeway added a jumper, but the Cougars responded with a pair of 3-pointers by Tharp and Dove to go up 70-38 with 4:13 remaining.
The Pirates added four free throws over the next minute, then Tharp drilled a 3-pointer at 2:31 and the subs came in, 73-42.
East Hardy’s Bradley Skeel made a basket under the hoop and the fans and bench cheered with an abundance of enthusiasm.
Paw Paw (13-10) managed to get one final field goal, but the Cougars had the win in their claws 75-49.
Tharp finished with a double-double of 36 points and 14 rebounds and McDonald contributed a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Kelican pitched in 13 points.
Braithwaite led the Pirates with 18 points and Ridgeway added 15.
East Hardy (12-11) advanced to face Tucker County in the semifinals. [/private]