Cleveland Heights got back to doing what it does very well – play winning basketball.
Unfazed by any possible distractions, the Tigers relied on their pressure defense and rebounding, led by Ju’Ruan Hardin’s 15 boards, to beat Madison in a Division I sectional final on Feb. 29.
Heights advanced to the Euclid District semi to play Brush in a rematch of a game played earlier this year and won by the Tigers.
It was the first game for Heights (18-5) since a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge granted a permanent injunction to allow them back into the OHSAA boys basketball tournament after the Tigers were originally ruled ineligible for the postseason. The OHSAA announced it would not fight that decision.
Heights made the most of the opportunity and jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the sectional final. However, Madison (15-9) chipped away at its deficit. The Streaks took an 18-17 lead on Chris Blauman’s 3-pointer early in the second quarter, but the Tigers closed the half on a 19-5 run.
Blauman led Madison with 11 points, while Ryan Bowers added 10 off the bench.
Four players scored in double figures for Cleveland Heights, led by E.J. Farmer with 14 points. Garvin Clarke and Hardin each had 13, while junior Davon Smith-Johnson added 12.