Clyde coach Ryan Fretz said it was impossible to defend.
But for Norwalk senior guard Brandon Haraway — it was simply instincts.
After the Fliers tied Friday’s first-place showdown in the SBC Lake Division at 41 with 6:50 left, Haraway did what he does a lot of nights for the Truckers.
“This is his home,” Chapin said. “On the court, he just feels so comfortable. You can tell, he’s just having fun with it.”
Haraway went on a 12-0 scoring run by himself in a 3:38 stretch in the final quarter to put Norwalk up 53-41 in the 54-46 win at Norwalk High School.
Norwalk won for the ninth straight time to improve to 11-2 overall (6-1 Lake). The Truckers are in first place by a half-game over Sandusky (6-4, 4-1).
With Norwalk leading 46-41 and under three minutes remaining, Haraway was looking for a clear out at the top of the key. He crossed over a Clyde defender, then broke for the basket with a 360 spin move — where he drove to the hoop and split two more defenders for a layup to bring the crowd to its collective feet.
The NCAA Division II Ashland University recruit finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.
“Sometimes it just comes to you,” Haraway said of the dazzling play. “And you do something you didn’t know you could do.”
Fretz and many others knew what he could do, however. But as the Clyde coach suggested, sometimes it doesn’t matter.
“Brandon is a phenomenal basketball player and we knew the ball was going in his hands,” he said. “He can score seven points in the first half and then go off like that down the stretch. We knew it was coming. We tried to double him and we tried to trap him.
“You can try everything, and he looks for his guys to pass to — but he was just so on tonight like he has been for the last six games,” Fretz added. “He was having a heyday with us. Props to him for playing and competing the way he did tonight to help his team come out with the victory.”
Clyde (8-5, 5-2) trailed by four (16-12) early in the second quarter, but closed the first half on a 9-3 scoring run to take a 21-19 halftime lead.
Norwalk was 0-of-10 from the 3-point line at that point. But then Chapin opened the second half with a 3, and Haraway and Kyler Lacy scored the game’s next eight points to cap an 11-0 scoring run and give the Truckers a 30-21 lead at the 4:28 mark.
It was a 41-34 lead with just over a minute left in the third, but Clyde’s Derick Harrah got hot, scoring the next seven points by himself to tie the game at 41 with 6:50 left.
But then as Haraway scored 12 consecutive points, the Truckers also clamped down on defense. The Fliers did not score for a 5:45 stretch of the fourth quarter, and went over six minutes without a field goal.
“They are the best defensive team in the league and they have the best offensive player in the league,” Fretz said of Norwalk. ”We had things we were trying against them, but they just do a great job of closing out and knowing who our scorers are.
“You look at it, and when something goes through the hoop, you almost celebrate that you finally scored,” he added. “But it’s just a testament to how Coach (Steve) Gray has them playing defense right now. If you ask me, that’s the best team in the SBC.”
Defensively, Norwalk entered the game allowing 46 points per game in Lake Division games — seven points better than the next closest team. The Truckers gave up exactly that on Friday.
“It’s the kids. They are buying what we are selling and are moving their feet so much better now,” Gray said. Their ability to recognize what the other team is attempting to do is the thing that impresses me the most. I think as a team we have a very high basketball IQ.”
Chapin added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Truckers, who are off until another key SBC Lake home game next Friday vs. Perkins. Lacy added five points and six rebounds.
Over his last six games, Haraway is averaging 26.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and four steals per game.
“We all know he is really good,” Gray said of Haraway. “That’s why a program like Ashland is going to give him a scholarship. But what you won’t find in the stats or anywhere else — Brandon loves to compete, and he loves to win. And I think that’s what makes him really special.”
As for the final three league games, Chapin said the goal is to stay the course.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing, and it will all work itself out,” he said.
In the junior varsity game, Norwalk (7-6) fell by a 46-29 score. Kyler Kromer had 12 points and four assists, and Andrew Mozina grabbed seven rebounds and added four points.
CLYDE (8-5, 5-2)
Ryan Lozier 0-2—2, Cam Farrar 1-3—6, Brock Newsome 1-2—5, Gabe Dowling 1-0—2, Will Dowling 3-3—9, James Dry 2-2—7, Derick Harrah 5-0—13, Jack Morrison 1-0—2. TOTALS 14-12—46.
NORWALK (11-2, 6-1)
Brandon Haraway 11-6—29; Garrett Chapin 4-1—10; Garrett Obringer 3-0—7; Kyler Lacy 2-1—5; Ryan Sowders 1-1—3. TOTALS 21-9—54.
Clyde 10 11 15 10 — 46
Norwalk 14 5 22 13 — 54
3-point FGs: (C) Harrah 3, Dry, Newsome, Farrar; (N) Haraway, Chapin, Obringer
JV: Clyde, 46-29