Next: Warren Harding at Chaney, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Next: East vs. Ursuline, Friday, 7;30 p.m.
By Doug Chapin
Now that league races have been all but decided and the tournament seedings are complete, it’s time for area boys basketball teams to start thinking about the postseason — as if they hadn’t been thinking about it already.
Warren Harding High (13-4) began the process Tuesday night in a 77-36 rout of East High, just two days after earning the second seed at the Division I sectional-district at Solon.
“Obviously we want to win a conference title, but that didn’t happen for us so our focus, as it’s always been, is to get ready for tournament time,” Raiders coach Steve Arnold said. “That will never change as long as I’m here.
“We’re always preparing for tournament time. That’s when it counts and when it’s real. We just try to improve, try to get a chemistry together, minimize mistakes,” Arnold said.
“Tonight we went small for about three or four minutes, then we went big, just trying different things for the tournament,” Arnold said. “We want to try a wrinkle or two that we haven’t shown during the season.”
East (5-11) played the Raiders tough early, holding a 6-4 lead with 4:30 showing on the first-quarter clock.
But Harding scored the last 11 points of the quarter and the first seven of the second quarter while opening a 22-6 advantage. The halftime score was 40-12 and after three quarters it was 60-23.
Craig McFerrin had a 13-point, 15-rebound performance for the Raiders.
Tre Brown added 11 points and five assists, Jesse Hardin contributed 10 points, Quenten Jackson had four assists and Shaheed Davis scored nine points.
Oshay Lawrence scored 12 points for East, Lee Johnson had 10 points and eight rebounds and Kejuan Thomas contributed eight points and six rebounds.
“At halftime, I reiterated to the kids that we need to continue to execute, take care of the ball, don’t get sloppy,” Arnold said. “Championship teams do the little things no matter who the opponent is. I give credit to East. Talent-wise they were outmatched, but they continued to play hard and they fought.”
Arnold and the Raiders have specific area in which they hope to see improvement as the season winds down.
“We anticipate seeing some zone defense (in the tournament), so we need to execute our zone offense,” he said. “We always focus on our defense and rebounding. I think that’s where you win championships.
“No matter how your offense is, you need to defend and rebounds. That’s going to be our focal point as we prepare down the stretch. And free throw shooting. That could determine whether you advance or pack up.”