PUEBLO - John Register summed up the mood in Harrison’s locker room at halftime Thursday with one word: embarrassment. The Panthers trailed city rival Sierra by 16 points and had given no indication of mounting a comeback. But they did, playing with the urgency and confidence that a Class 5A state tournament game requires. Harrison, the No. 6 seed, rallied to beat No. 2 Sierra 60-58 as five Panthers scored in double figures in the round-of-16 game at CSU-Pueblo’s Massari Arena. “At halftime, we felt embarrassment,” Register said. “But that made us fired up to get back out there. The seniors stepped up and told people to get after it.” The Panthers did, erasing the deficit with a 20-4 thirdquarter performance that tied the game entering the final eight minutes. It was tied with 1:53 left but Antoine Watson and Arthur Kaufman scored consecutive baskets to put Harrison ahead 57-53. Brandon Toney’s 3-pointer with 27 seconds left gave Sierra a chance, but Register made a free throw and O’Bryan Hewitt made a pair to ice the win. “Give Harrison credit, especially John Register,” Sierra coach Brent Garretson said. “He played as hard as he could on both ends and wouldn’t give up.” Harrison (17-9) plays a familiar foe, No. 8 seed Widefield (15-9) in Saturday’s 6 p.m. round-of-eight game at Massari Arena. The Panthers beat Widefield twice, 63-59 on Jan. 20 at Widefield, and 71-61 on Feb. 9 at Harrison. “We’re not taking them lightly,” Register said. “We know they’re hungry and playing with a whole lot of intensity and heart, more than they did early in the year.” Register and Kaufman led Harrison with 13 points each, and Watson scored 12. Hewitt and DaKarius Hollins each scored 10 points. Curtis Ashe paced Sierra (16-9) with 18 but wasn’t the same after being whistled for his third foul in the first half. Toney scored 12 and 6-foot-6 freshman D.J. Dickson had eight. Sierra senior Mykel Williams left the game midway through the first quarter with an injured left ankle. “That really hurt us,” Garretson said. “And we got tentative the second half. We didn’t run our offense and shot too quick.” Harrison coach Jerry Austin switched defenses at halftime. “We tried full-court pressure and a zone the first half but Sierra picked us apart,” Austin said. “We went to a man-to-man the second half and buckled down.” It was the type of intense, emotional battle that occurs when two traditional conference rivals clash, which rarely happens in a state tournament round-of-16 game. Sierra beat Harrison 52-39 in their game earlier this season and appeared likely to win by a big margin again when leading 24-10 after one quarter. Sierra was up 41-25 at halftime and seemingly in control. But Harrison owned the third quarter, outscoring Sierra 20-4 to pull even at 45. The fourth quarter had four lead changes as tension filled the arena. “There’s no feeling like winning a game like this,” Register said. “Nothing as good except if we win it all.” ROUND OF 16 Scores 4A boys Harrison 60, Sierra 58 Liberty 47, Golden 38 Widefield 76, Ralston Valley 63 5A girls Air Academy 55, Durango 52 Doherty 52, Cherry Creek 34 ThunderRidge 67, Palmer 35
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