Harding ousts Green in OT
Rashid Gaston’s last-second shot sends Warren to the regional
By Matthew Peaslee
An extra four minutes of play in the Division I district final gave Warren Harding’s Rashid Gaston three chances at redemption.
First, he had to make up for the past two seasons — both ended with losses at this same point.
Secondly, the Raiders fell in a previous overtime game against Shaker Heights by three points earlier in the season.
Finally, his rebound and put-back attempt fell short at the end of regulation.
But when Arthur Cook found him posted up in the paint as the final seconds ticked away in overtime, Gaston wiped those thoughts away and dismissed Green, 71-69.
“We’ve been in the same position the last two years and ended up coming up short,” Gaston said. “We had to take home the silver, now we take home the gold.
“When I had that opportunity I had to take advantage of it; I wasn’t going to let it go to double OT,” Gaston said. “I wanted to get it over with so I tried to concentrate more and put the ball in the hole.”
Converting the shot was the easy part, the celebration was a challenge.
As his teammates swarmed him, jumped on his back and playfully pushed him, Gaston ripped off his jersey and held up the white No. 50 for the whole crowd to see.
“Yeah,” he said. “That was the hardest part.”
Cook had four assists, but the most important one was the dish to Gaston. When he missed the attempt at the end of the fourth quarter, it was off a Cook missed three.
“We kind of made eye contact so I was ready for it,” Gaston said. “We’re all unselfish players and Art showed it there.”
In his 10 seasons as Harding coach, Steve Arnold has won three district titles. He will relinquish his basketball coaching duties to assume the same role for the Raiders’ football team in the fall.
“Each has its special place,” Arnold said. “Obviously this is special being my last one coaching. What better way to do it than in overtime on a last second shot.”
Harding (20-3) led by seven with 2:50 left in the third quarter, but Green tied it on a 3-pointer by freshman Austin Marcinak 48 seconds later. The Bulldgos took a 50-48 lead into the fourth.
A Cook 3-pointer put the Raiders up by four with 3:42 left in regulation. Andrew Pratt then scored four of his 14 points in final two minutes getting Green to tie it.
In overtime, Harding led by four again, 67-63, when Jesse Hardin picked off a pass, drove to the hoop and delivered bounce pass to Orlanda Ervin who scored his only two points on a two-handed dunk with 46 seconds left.
Evan Kesslar two free throws and jump shot between a pair of foul shots from Rasaun Smith brought it to 69-67, then Green’s Dan Finelly made a layup with nine seconds left preempting the final, breath-taking play.
Cook (12), Gaston (13), Smith (16) and Hardin (19) all scored in double figures for the Raiders. Gaston added 12 rebounds as he swatted seven shots.