March 10: PIAA Round One
Harrisburg’s Davon Lee felt he didn’t shoot the ball exceptionally well during Saturday’s PIAA Class 6A opener against Downingtown East. But the 6-foot-2 junior sunk the game’s most important shot.
With the score tied at 61, Lee drove to the basket and dropped in a buzzer-beating floater to give the Cougars a 63-61 victory at Cumberland Valley High School.
District 3 champion Harrisburg (20-6) is now through to round two where the Cougars draw District 1 six-seed Chester (20-6) on Wednesday.
“[Coach] told me in the huddle that I was going to get it so I just went and got it,” said Lee, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. “All game long my shot was off, but I knew when it came down to it I was going to make the plays.”
“We knew they were big the whole game but I knew that last shot I was going to get to the rack somehow, some way and shoot my floater,” he added. “I knew that shot was going to happen.”
Downingtown East (16-12), the ten-seed from District 1, gave Harrisburg some serious headaches with its size and length. The 6-foot-5 Dylan Rowe and 6-foot-6 Andrew King terrorized the Cougars in the first half.
The Rowe-King duo combined for 15 first-half points to give the Cougars a 30-27 edge at the break. Rowe (12 points, 10 rebounds) finished with a double-double, and King totaled 18 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
“We’ve been undersized all year, our biggest kid might be 6-5, but it doesn’t matter,” Harrisburg coach Kirk Smallwood said. “We just have a lot of fight in us. We have a lot of heart.”
It was Harrisburg’s turn to pound it inside to begin the second half with 6-foot-5 Amir Stoute getting a slew of tough buckets. The senior forward had 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, including 10 in the third period.
With Stoute controlling the paint, Harrisburg clung to a 47-45 lead entering the fourth period.
“Especially with me being off, [Stoute] definitely carried us,” Lee said. “Our game plan was just give it to him and watch him make plays and he definitely did.”
Stoute’s ninth and final field goal of the night pushed Harrisburg ahead 53-47 late in the fourth.
Then Downingtown East countered with four 3-pointers – three by David Owsik and one from King – to go ahead 59-55. King pounded in another bucket to give the Cougars a 61-55 edge.
Harrisburg came back with two quick buckets and a pair of free throws by John McNeil to tie the game at 61.
After McNeil’s successful foul shots, Downington East had possession with one minute to play, and the Cougars trimmed off 27 seconds before Jack Riley stepped out of bounds underneath the Harrisburg basket.
Harrisburg inbounded the ball with 33.4 seconds remaining, which gave Lee plenty of time to set up the winning shot.
“This team has been resilient all year,” Smallwood said. “We’ve had some bad losses at home and no one ever thought that we would be here and we are. These kids just won’t give up, they’re not afraid of anybody and they give us 100 percent. I just love coaching this group.”