Harrow, Walton Battle Past East Meck, 80-68

BELMONT, N.C. -- NC State commitment Ryan Harrow started slow... slower than he had hoped in his first game back in North Carolina since transferring from Concord (NC) Cannon School.

NC State commitment Ryan Harrow started slow... slower than he had hoped in his first game back in North Carolina since transferring from Concord (NC) Cannon School.

The 6-foot point guard bounced back with an efficient second half to lead Marietta (GA) Walton to an 80-68 victory over Charlotte (NC) East Mecklenburg in the opening round of the 2008 Prep All-Stars Holiday Classic.

East Mecklenburg is one of the top basketball programs in the state of North Carolina. A four-time defending Southwestern 4A conference champion, the Eagles defeated Apex High 73-61 in March to capture the first basketball state title in school history. Extremely well-coached, East Meck. came out early in a compact zone to try and limit Walton's dribble penetration. The strategy left Harrow, Georgia Tech signee Glen Rice, and others open on the perimeter but the team struggled to knock down shots.

Harrow tallied just 10 points on 5-of-15 shooting in the first half, missing all seven of his 3-point attempts. Struggling to hit open shots or create easy opportunities with their pressure defense, Walton trailed East Mecklenburg 35-34 at the half.

"I started off slow but I picked it up in the second half," said Harrow. "My coach just said to let the game come to me. I was good after that."

The talented point guard was the difference in the final two quarters. He forced turnovers, created scoring opportunities for his teammates, and converted his own chances. Over the final 24 minutes, Harrow scored 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, as he knocked down 2-of-4 3-pointers and hit 3-of-5 from the free throw line.

"I just wanted to play my game so we could get the win," he stated.

Harrow finished the game with 29 points on 12-of-26 shooting. He hit just 2-of-11 3-pointers, but added eight assists and six steals. With the win, Walton improved to 4-2 on the season. The team now has its full roster of players after 10 varsity members missed two previous games while serving suspensions for a skirmish during an earlier tournament.

"We're doing pretty good," said Harrow. "We're starting to play better together, no arguing... just playing more as a team.

"We've got to work on our defense. We have to keep getting back on defense and working hard. But, we've only played a couple of games with our whole team so I know we can get better."

It won't get any easier for Walton as the Raiders face United Faith Christian Academy tonight at 7:30 in the semifinals of the 2008 Prep All-Stars Challenge. UFCA, a member of the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISA) and the Metrolina Athletic Conference (MAC), features a roster loaded with talent and size. Their size could be an issue for Walton, who doesn't have a player taller than 6'5. UFCA features six players 6'6 or taller, including talented 2010 prospects Tevin Friday (6'7) and Kadeem Green. Add in a couple of 7-foot freshmen and you get the idea.

With that being said, their headliner is 2010 point guard Ian Miller. A transfer from South Mecklenburg High School, the 6-foot-2 four-star prospect continues his transition from scoring guard to floor general and has had success. One thing he won't have to worry about is his recruitment as Miller committed early to the Florida State Seminoles. Miller vs. Harrow should be a great matchup tonight. Harrow is familiar with Miller from his days at Cannon School and on the AAU circuit but securing the win is more important than any individual battle.

"It's going to be a good competition," he stated. "We've played against each other before and it's always competitive. You just can't look at one person, you've got to look at the team. They have a good team, but we need to get the win."

The winner plays the Roswell (GA) Centennial-Matthews (NC) Butler winner at 7:30 pm on Tuesday in the 2008 Prep All-Stars Holiday Classic title game. The losers of both games will face off at 6:00 Tuesday night.

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