Warren Harding wins battle of unbeatens
Next: Warren Harding vs. Geneva and South Range at Crestview, both Monday at 7:30 p.m.
By Doug Chapin
It was inevitable that the Raiders would remain undefeated but also suffer their first loss of the season in the girls basketball contest Wednesday at Harding High.
How is that possible? The Division I Warren Harding Raiders (6-0) defeated the Division III South Range Raiders (7-1) by a 67-52 margin.
The visitors trailed by just 50-45 with five minutes left to play in a game that was close until midway through the last quarter.
Junior forward Anita Brown picked up the slack for Harding on a night when top scorer Kourtney Williams struggled.
Brown came through with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Williams, despite a five-for-18 shooting night, still had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Diamonn Hymes contributed 14 points and Brianna McCurdy added eight.
“We were fortunate to come out with a victory because that team does everything fundamentally sound. That’s a nice program,” Harding coach P.J. Notar said about South Range. “They are Division III, but if teams don’t scout them, you don’t know what’s going to hit you. They were not afraid of playing a D-I school.”
It was clear South Range was not intimidated playing on the Harding floor.
“We have a good team, we were a good team last year and we’ve grown up a lot. We’ve learned where we’re at,” South Range coach Wayne Johnson said. “We felt like we were coming up here to win, we weren’t coming up not to lose. The girls left it on the floor.
“Harding is a really good team. They’ve got a lot of talent, they kept coming at us with different kids. We battled as best we could.”
Emily Seman was outstanding for South Range with 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
“Emily is a tough kid. She’s a post player in a guard’s body,” Johnson said. “She just battles, she’s got a lot of heart.
“She was part of the softball team that was very successful last year, a big part of it. She knows how to win and she knows what it takes. She just plays hard.”
Harding led 18-13 after one quarter, but a 14-6 second period left South Range with a 27-24 halftime advantage.
The home team regained control of the game in the third quarter, but never led by more than five points and held a 43-39 lead going into the final eight minutes.
The score was 50-45 at the five-minute mark, then Harding scored 10 points in a row to establish a 60-45 lead with 2:45 remaining. South Range never got closer than 13 after that.
“I’m really proud of the girls, down by three at the half, the way they came out in the second half and tried to set the tone,” Notar said. “We missed a lot opportunities, easy shots. But we stuck with it, the girls didn’t mope, they just kept trying to put the pressure on.”