BOYS BASKETBALL Defense pushes Harding's mark to 16-1
Key steals and a strong run in OT allowed the Raiders to take down top-ranked St. Vincent-St. Mary.
WARREN -- The Warren G. Harding Raiders boys basketball team literally stole a game from the top-ranked team in Division II on Saturday.
The Raiders, ranked No. 4 in Division I, improved to 16-1 with a 72-69 overtime victory over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary before a standing-room-only crowd.
Harding converted five steals into 12 points during a three-minute span of the third quarter that turned a 10-point deficit into a 41-39 lead.
"Our defense helps our offense," said Harding coach Steve Arnold. "When we defend and get into an uptempo game, we're able to convert off of our steals."
Senior guard Mario Manningham led the Raiders with 21 points and eight steals. Teammates Roddy Fuller and Bruce Allen added 20 and 16 points, respectively.
Harding led 49-43 to start the final quarter, but SVSM junior Marcus Johnson scored 10 of his game-high 28 points during the span to pull the Irish even and send the game into overtime. Senior Lawrence Wilson chipped in 24 points and 12 boards.
SVSM (14-3) took a 67-64 lead on a steal and layup by Brian Glasper at the 2:39 mark of the extra period, but a Manningham 3-pointer just seconds later drew the teams even again.
A Manningham steal and layup with 30 seconds left put the Raiders up for good.
A game for respect
For the Raiders and their coach, this was a game for respect.
"They were down against the No. 1 team in the state," said Arnold. "But they found the grit to come back. This was about statewide respect. To beat the No. 1 team in the state with the popularity of their program. This game was about respectability around the state of Ohio."
Harding, using stiff defensive pressure, converted four steals in the last four minutes of the first quarter into eight points and a 17-13 lead.
The Fighting Irish ranked No. 1 in Division II, started the second quarter with a 10-4 run to take their first lead since the 3:54 mark in the first 23-21. Marcus Johnson scored 10 points in the second and teammate Lawrence Wilson added 8 during the run and SVSM with a 36-29 lead at intermission.