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By Glen Miller
During warm-ups before a game with fourth-ranked Carl Albert, El Reno High School guard Justin Harris had the feeling he was dialed in on the rim from the 3-point arc.
However, he kept that news to himself, rather than tell head coach Rodney Haydon.
“I started feeling it during warm-ups but I didn’t tell coach anything. He’s always said I had the green light and to play hard,” said Harris.
Harris used the green light to rip apart the Titans defense for a career-high eight 3-pointers as the Indians jumped back into the Suburban Conference race with a 69-67 road win over the Titans.
“This was a huge win for us,” said Haydon.
The victory lifted El Reno, ranked No.11 in Class 5A, to 7-4 on the season and 4-2 in the conference standings.
“This was a very big game for us. We had lost three out of four before that and they (Carl Albert) were ranked fourth. To beat number four after losing three before that works pretty well for us.
“We needed this to get back into the conference race. This made us feel like we can beat anybody. On any given night anyone can do what they want. Coming out of the Anadarko tournament with those two losses, people thought we would slip up, but we just kept our heads up and started worrying about the next game,” said Harris.
El Reno led 19-15 after one period as Harris hit his first 3-pointer. He added a pair of treys in the second period as the Indians used a 15-14 scoring edge to take a 34-29 halftime lead.
The Titans stormed back with a 23-17 edge in the third period to lead by one, 52-51, before El Reno went on an 18-15 run in the fourth period to secure the win. Carl Albert hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it a two-point game.
Harris had a 3-pointer in the final period and hit 3-of-4 free throw attempts. Micheal Jones scored two baskets, while Justin Brown added one and made three free throws. Bryon Elledge posted two shots from the charity stripe and Jones added one.
El Reno ended the game shooting 23-of-38 from the field for 60.5 percent, which included a season-high 8-of-12 from the 3-point line for 66.7 percent.
Harris was 8-of-9 from 3-point distance to highlight his game-high 27 points. He added five rebounds, three assists and two steals to his totals.
“I had had a couple of bad games before that and was not shooting it very good,” said Harris. “But it just came back on and I was feeling it from the start. After that first one (trey), I knew warm-ups was not a fluke.”
Brown tossed in 13 points and completed a double-double with 15 rebounds, two assists and a pair of steals. Elledge closed with 12 points, four assists, two caroms and a steal.
Jones had seven points, four dishes, three rebounds and a steal. Josh Bushyhead scored six points and pulled down a pair of rebounds off the bench. Sage Lamebull added four points, four boards, two assists and a pair of blocked shots.