The Raiders lost their second straight game since Coach Frank Bubba died Thursday.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
WARREN -- Paul Trina, the Warren Harding High athletic director, stood near center court surrounded by members of the Raiders basketball team and visiting George Junior Republic just before Saturday's game.
Trina, using a prepared text, spoke to the capacity crowd about late Harding basketball coach, Frank Bubba, who had cystic fibrosis and died Thursday after a bout with pneumonia.
"He taught us to work through the different situations that life may bring us," Trina said. "He taught us to work through adversity to reach our full potential."
The Raiders (11-3) may someday look back on this weekend and say it helped them grow into better players. Maybe a better team.
But the process will be painful at times -- Saturday's game against the Tigers proved as much.
George Junior senior Benson Callier scored a career-high 42 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Tigers (12-3) handed Harding its second loss in as many days, 99-72.
"Emotionally, I'm not sure how much we had left," Harding coach Garry Rowland said. "I told my players that this might be the toughest three or four days they'll ever have in their lives."
Leaders: Shelby Chaney scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Harding. Danny Stella also scored 16 and Prescott Burgess added 13.
"Thinking back on it, it may not have been the best idea to play this weekend," said Rowland, whose Raiders lost Friday night to Ursuline.
"I know I wasn't prepared to coach [Friday] night," Rowland said. "It's tough to have one of your best friends pass away and then have to think about a basketball game."
Close start: Harding kept pace with George Jr. for the first quarter, trading outbursts to trail 22-20 after one.
But the Tigers outscored the Raiders 26-9 in the second quarter to take a 48-29 halftime lead and Harding never recovered.
"We've talked about it for two months, that if we could get all five guys to play to their potential, we'd be a really good team," George Jr. coach Bob McConnell said.
"Benson [Callier] finally played like he's capable of playing," McConnell said. "He put us on his back tonight."
Freshman John Brown scored 22 points and added four steals for George Jr. The Tigers have lost to New Castle, Farrell and Scott County (Ky.) this season, but looked unbeatable against Harding.
"I told my players that [George Jr.] may be the best team they see this year -- in Ohio or Pennsylvania," Rowland said. "And as a staff, we're adjusting, but still it's different because we're missing part of our team.
"The kids are a little disappointed. They know they're better than this."
Turnovers: Harding hit 30 of 68 from the floor (44 percent) and was 8 of 14 from the line. The Tigers forced 22 Harding turnovers -- including five to start the decisive second quarter.
George Jr. shot 38-for-69 (55 percent) and was 14 of 24 from the line.
"We told our guys that we knew it would be a very emotional home game for [Harding]," McConnell said. "We got them down early and sort of took the wind out of their sails.
"But basketball is not the most important thing in Warren right now for the kids, the staff or the administration," he said.
Calling hours for Bubba will be held today from 2-6 p.m. in the Warren Harding gymnasium, with the funeral Monday at 10 a.m. at Christ Our King Catholic Church.