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Navarre's Matt Harshany Leads Raiders into the post-season...and in the classroom

Navarre's Matt Harshany Leads Raiders into the post-season... and in the classroom

District basketball tournaments for the boys got underway, Monday night, in a couple locations. Jay beat Northview in the District 3-1A game in Baker. And South Walton edged North Bay Haven, 46-45, in Panama City.

But most tournaments start Tuesday. That includes the District One-8A tournament at Gulf Breeze. Tate is the top seed. But the #2 seed, Navarre, features the area’s top scorer. And that’s not even the most impressive thing about him.

If all you ever saw of Matt Harshany was him knocking down one shot after another, it would be enough. The Navarre senior averages 27 points a game. He scored 51 in one game. When he’s on, he’s something to see.

“That's just been about every single game that we've played this season,” said Navarre head coach Taf Bentley. “It's been really wild to watch.”

Harshany carries the Raiders’ hopes into the playoffs. A heavy responsibility that doesn’t seem to weigh on him.

Harshany explained, ”I think my teammates and coach do a great job of making me feel like, this is my shot, and I feel like I'm ready for it, too,” he said. “So, I don't feel too much pressure with that.”

But Bentley said Harshany’s passing and his leadership are overlooked. He’s a volume scorer who still makes his teammates better.

Bentley said, “You can see him constantly talking to those guys. I think he's giving them every trick he's got in the book, to let 'em know how to get by guys, where to even position themselves.”

Harshany added, “I know when I score more it helps the team, but, at the same time, if teams are trying to double-team, it’s just going to get people open shots and try to help our offense be the best we can.”

For all that, we’ve still buried the lead. Harshany is on track to be Navarre’s Valedictorian. A 4.8 GPA. He’s accepted an offer to attend Cornell.

Harshany said his success on the court and in the classroom complement each other. “I'm a naturally competitive guy,” he said. “So I just want to want to try to be the best at academics as well as basketball.”

“He wants to be the best at what he does,” said Bentley. “And I think that shows you, not only what he does on the basketball court, but how it translates off the basketball court, that he's that competitive.”

An honor student bound for the Ivy League - that must be the greatest reward imaginable.

Harshany isn’t so sure. “I would say basketball is definitely a little more rewarding,” he demurred. “Because that's just something I love.”

And with that, Matt Harshany brilliantly baffles more than just defenses.

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