The Raiders' 96-29 victory earns SVC championship tie with Ursuline.
WARREN -- Complete domination would be the best explanation of Warren Harding High's finish of its regular season against Cardinal Mooney Friday night.
The Raiders broke away from a 6-6 tie at the 4:25 mark of the first quarter for a 96-29 victory.
Harding finished the regular season with a 19-1 record and tied Ursuline for the Steel Valley Conference title at 5-1. The Raiders, third-ranked in Division I, had four players score in double figures and all 14 who played scored. They had 52 rebounds, including 40 on the defensive end, 26 assists, 29 steals. Warren Harding forced 32 Mooney turnovers and turned them into 25 points, and they finished 38-of-56 (67.8 percent) from the floor.
"I told our guys that I was very proud of them and this 19 and one record, but now there are bigger goals and our biggest one is to get to Columbus," said Warren Harding coach Steve Arnold.
Noting the 29 steals, Arnold said, "What we do well is get in the passing lanes and disrupt a lot of team's offenses and this is a tribute to every guy who steps on the court for us. These guys bought into a team concept for the entire season, nobody ever looks or asks about points scored, they talk about stopping somebody, about playing defense."
Senior's best game
On Senior Night, it was several seniors who had big nights. Steve Williams finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and nine steals.
"This was my best overall game of the season and it was a great season, but it doesn't mean a thing if we don't do what we set out to do and that is win a state championship," said Williams.
Roddy Fuller, a 6-4 junior, had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Raiders. He scored 10 points in the first quarter, including eight in the last three minutes, when the Raiders went on a 9-2 run and never looked back.
Pat White and Dan Herron each scored 10 points and Mario Manningham, the team's leading scorer this season, finished with eight points, six assists and six steals. Brian Wright also had six assists.
Desmond Marrow led the Cardinals (4-16, 1-5) with 10 points and he pulled down a team-leading eight rebounds.
Praise for Harding
"This is a game we won't even talk about," said Mooney coach Scott Groves. "We will only look ahead to the tournament now.
"I feel that Harding is the best team in the state with the best coaching staff a team can have, but I feel bad for the Mooney fans who came here, because we really didn't give them a best effort."
Mooney begins Div. III tournament play at Salem next week while Warren Harding goes to Canton for Div. I play, where they are seeded No. 3 behind Canton McKinley and North Canton.