Log in

Ozark ups win streak since Harmon’s return to four games by clubbing Carthage


The combination of an injury, a postponement and a road swing led to Tyler Harmon playing only a couple minutes at home over a three-week period to begin this month.

Ozark fans who don’t travel to see the Tigers finally got to see Friday how he is handling a right hip injury that forced him courtside for a week.

What they witnessed was encouraging, Harmon scoring a game-high 21 points in Ozark’s 81-61 COC triumph versus Carthage.

The senior swingman, who suffered a pulled oblique muscle against Nixa on Feb. 1, described his current ability to play as, “80-85 percent.”

“I’m feeling all right,” Harmon said somewhat convincingly. “It’s kind of a nagging injury. It’s a constant pulling feeling, pulling my right side down to my hip. If I stretch out to my left side, it pulls me back down.

“I’m seeing a lot of progress,” he added. “Ever since the day I hurt it, the improvements we have made are serious. There’s a lot of tissue work, it’s strengthening and getting the muscles to stabilize by themselves, so I don’t have to rely on other muscles.”

“He still grabs his side a little bit,” coach Mark Schweitzer said. “But he doesn’t complain. It’s not affected his play. He played great tonight.”

Harmon’s value was underscored by Ozark losing both games he hardly played or didn’t play at all. The Tigers (17-7 overall and 6-1 in the COC) have won four straight since he returned.

What’s more, Ozark has won eight in a row in games Harmon was healthy enough to play.

Also flourishing Friday were Ethan Whatley, who had 20 points, Greydon Miller, who had 13, and Jace Whatley, who added nine.

Ozark has averaged 78.3 points a night in its last four games.

“Harmon’s a stud, an all-conference first-team player,” Schweitzer said. “Then you’ve got (Ethan) running around shooting the ball, little Whatley cleaning up the glass and Greydon hitting some 3s. We’re getting close to playing our best basketball.”

Ozark outlasted Carthage by outscoring the visitors 41-25 in the second half.

Carthage (18-6 and 4-4) put forth a commendable effort to try to keep pace with Ozark in the first half by swishing 5-of-6 3-point attempts during one stretch.

Carthage had seven of its nine 3-point goals in the first half.

Through it all, Ozark led 40-36 at intermission.

“They’re a great shooting team,” Schweitzer said. “They do a great job running sets for their shooters, to set them up for catch-and-shoot open shots. We would play good defense and they still hit shots. That’s deflating. There was a lot of mental toughness there. Our kids did a great job sticking with it and we weathered the perimeter shooting they displayed. At halftime, I told the kids, ‘Look at how well they shot the ball and we’re still up by four.’

“The second half was all us,” he added. “Eventually, the stops came and we were able to keep scoring.”

“When someone hits a 3 in our face, it’s a little deflating. But you’ve got to keep positive energy up,” Harmon said. “They kept up with us by shooting those 3s in the first half. But they cooled off and we ran away with it.”

Ozark assured itself no less than a second-place tie in the COC race. Nixa (21-3 and 8-0) clinched at least a share for the league title by beating Neosho 77-51 Friday.

Next week, Ozark hosts Neosho on Monday and travels to Republic on Tuesday, while Nixa visits conference cellar-dweller Carl Junction.

“If they win out, they deserve it and congratulations to them for sending coach (Jay) Osborne out as a repeat undefeated conference winner,” Schweitzer said.

CARTHAGE (61) — Templeman 4 4-5 13, Kinder 7 4-4 22, Coy 3 2-2 10, Kabance 2 2-4 6, Willis 1 0-0 2, Pugh 3 0-0 8.

OZARK (81) — J. Whatley 2 5-6 9, Miller 5 0-0 13, Harmon 7 7-9 21, Ballard 1 4-6 6, E. Whatley 8 3-4 20, Easley 1 1-2 3, Wright 3 3-3 9.

Carthage 21 15 14 11 - 61

Ozark      21 19 18 23 - 81

3-point goals - Kinder 4, Miller 3, Coy 2, Pugh 2, Templeman, E. Whatley.