The Irish cut the lead at halftime and continued the comeback before the Raiders' decisive run.
By DOUG CHAPIN
WARREN -- The Warren Harding High boys basketball team put together a 20-3 run during a seven-minute span in the second half Friday and punctuated another Steel Valley Conference championship season with a 69-52 rout of Ursuline.
The Irish were the only SVC team to beat Harding (17-3, 7-1), posting a 64-54 victory Jan. 25, just days after the death of Harding coach Frank Bubba. The Raiders also lost the next night to George Junior Republic but closed the season with six straight wins.
Proving a point: "It wasn't so much revenge, but we wanted to set things right. We wanted to prove a point," Harding coach Garry Rowland said. "I saw the look in the kids' eyes. Maybe we're back to where we need to be. I know Coach Bubba would be pleased with how we played tonight."
Harding led 37-24 late in the second quarter before the Irish (13-7, 4-4) cut the lead to 37-29 at halftime. Ursuline continued the comeback at the start of the second half, getting to within 39-38 with 4:49 remaining in the third period. Andre Edmonds, who led all scorers with 23 points, tallied eight of Ursuline's points in that 14-2 run.
The Raiders then began their decisive run, getting six points from Prescott Burgess and five each from Danny Stella and Ethan Banks. Harding stretched the lead to 59-41 with 5:33 left in the game.
Despite the defeat, Ursuline coach Steve Leslie was upbeat.
"I was very pleased with our kids. It was a very physical game and we stood up to them," he said. "In the long run I think they wore us down. It was a 39-38 game and we had possession, then they go on that run.
"But I told the kids Harding is capable of that. As far as I'm concerned they're as good as any team in the state when they play like they did the last quarter and a half."
Seniors instrumental: Harding's seniors, playing on the home floor for the last time, were instrumental in the win. Banks ended up with 12 points, five assists, three steals and nine rebounds. Shelby Chaney scored eight points and grabbed 16 rebounds, and Ronnie Angel came off the bench to add six points and three steals.
"We talked about it before the game. It was their last time on the floor and they should leave it all here," Rowland said. "It was a tremendous effort, not only by the seniors, but everyone who played. It was the kind of effort we've been looking for for the last few weeks."
Edmonds, who recorded 10 rebounds, was backed in scoring by Terrence Graves with 10 points.
The Irish will learn from the defeat, Leslie said.
"There are some things we need to work on. The press bothered us, for one thing. We want to get ready for the tournament, and I can't think of a better way than playing Harding in our last game."