The Raiders have a matchup set with North Canton on Thursday.
CANTON -- For the second straight tournament game, the Warren Harding High boys basketball team played for the most part at the level of a less-heralded opponent.
And for the second straight game, the Raiders (21-1) escaped from a closer contest than expected.
Saturday at the Canton Civic Center, Roddy Fuller scored 15 points and Bruce Allen contributed 13 as the Raiders advanced to the Division I district semifinals with a 55-40 victory over Massillon Perry (9-13).
"We played all right and they played hard, strong," said Fuller who led the Raiders with eight rebounds. "We can play way better, but the fact that it's tournament time and everybody's got the jitters -- we've got to pick it up."
Thursday at 7:30 p.m., third-seeded Warren Harding will play second-seeded North Canton Hoover (19-2) in a district semifinal.
"We're still playing lethargic," said Warren Harding coach Steve Arnold, referring to Tuesday's 66-64 overtime win over Uniontown Lake. "I thought we would come out with a little bit better bounce in our step today, but we didn't."
Raiders take the lead
Fuller's basket from underneath broke an 8-8 tie and launched a 9-0 run for the Raiders. After Brian Wright hit a 3-pointer, Allen connected for two baskets for a 17-8 advantage.
The Panthers climbed back into the game with an 8-1 run capped by a basket and two free throws by Darrell Parker.
"They slowed the game down on us and played their style," Arnold said. "I wasn't pleased with our defense, although we sometimes forced them to take some bad shots. And we were able to rebound and get-it-and-go, which is our game."
Two baskets by Pat White and another by Fuller restored the Raiders' lead to eight, 24-16, late in the second quarter.
A pair of 3-pointers by senior Mario Manningham helped Harding open up a 40-32 lead going into the final quarter.
Parker's basket and free throw reduced the Raiders' lead to five, but that was as close as the Panthers would get.
"The most important thing is that we are coming back Thursday," Arnold said. "Hoover is a great basketball team -- our kids are looking forward to this game. Maybe that has been a little bit of a problem. Maybe we were looking past Lake and Perry."
Hoover is next
Fuller said that before the game that "the whole team thought about" how Hoover is next.
"Coach told us to not think about them, but we did," Fuller said. "We've got to come out strong against them because they can shoot so well. I can't wait."
Perry freshman Kenny Frease, a 6-foot-10 center, led the Panthers with 10 points. Parker scored seven points and pulled down eight rebounds.