ONTARIO — Ashland’s Klejhan Randleman started strong and finished fast.
A 6-foot-5 forward, Randleman scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Arrows pulled away for a 78-63 win over Ontario in the final game of the 419 Challenge at the O-Rena.
On Ashland’s first trip down the floor, Randleman drove to the basket and nearly dunked in traffic while being fouled. The senior made both free throws and, more importantly, energized the Arrows (3-2).
“Klejhan set the tone right off the bat,” Ashland coach Jason Hess said. “That first possession when he went to the rim, he came ready to play tonight.
“We’ve kind of been missing that. We knew that was in him and he just did a tremendous all night long on both ends of the floor. He was a game-changer tonight for us.”
The Warriors (3-2) trailed 54-52 going to the fourth quarter and tied it at 54-54 on a Jayden Jacobs layup with 7:31 remaining before the wheels came off. Ashland ripped off a 9-0 run that included a Randleman 3-pointer and opened a 63-54 lead. Ontario cut it to 66-60 on an Ethan Keller triple with 2:46 remaining but an offensive rebound and putback by Sam Zickefoose and a conventional three-point play by Randleman sealed it.
“We were where we wanted to be. We just had to get stops and execute offensively but we didn’t do that,” Ontario coach Joe Balogh said. “The big emphasis with (Randleman) was we wanted him to be a jump shooter. We really didn’t do that and he just did a great job of getting to the glass.”
Randleman had plenty of help. Garrett Denbow and Mitch Heilman scored 21 points apiece as the Arrows topped the 70-point plateau for a second straight night. Ashland connected on 12 3-pointers in a 73-56 win over Mount Vernon on Friday.
“We were kind of concerned about this being a trap game. As well as we shot the ball (Friday) night — hitting 12 3s — we really emphasized to our guys don’t just settle for 3-pointers,” Hess said. “They went in last night but part of the reason they went in was because we went inside-out first.”
The Arrows heeded Hess’s advice, attacking the rim relentlessly. Ashland attempted 33 free throws, sinking 28 (85 percent).
“We weren’t ready to guard in the half court and they attacked it and got to the free throw line,” Balogh said. “They did a great job of attacking our defense.”
Griffin Shaver led Ontario with 22 points — including 13 in the third quarter. The sophomore sharp-shooter connected on six 3-pointers. Jacobs added 12 points, while Keller and Kolten Kurtz each had nine points.