By brandon judeh
After losing a close game to Warrensville Heights early in the season, Warren G. Harding wanted nothing more than to send the Tigers to their ninth loss.
Montell Goodwin and company had other ideas as their hot shooting performance put away the Raiders, 82-73, to sweep the season series.
“They were 12-of-13 shooting in the first quarter —that’s ridiculous,” said Warren Harding head coach Andrew Vlajkovich. “I thought we had some decent hands on them, but when a team is shooting like that it’s hard to have an answer.”
The Tigers’ hot shooting start gave them a five-point, first-quarter lead, but the Raiders were able to stay in the game thanks to junior Anthony Bell’s 12 first-quarter points.
“Anthony Bell is a talented kid,” Vlajkovich said. “At times he has carried this team. Recently, he has begun to understand when he needs to put the team on his back and also when he needs to play in the flow of the game.”
Matching Bell point for point, early on, was Goodwin, who scored 11 first-quarter points on his way to a team-high 17. He also had four assists.
“We started to trap Goodwin a bit, but then he was finding the open guy, so we were kind of darned if we do, darned if we don’t,” Vlajkovich said.
“We were trying to wear them down, but I think we wore ourselves down in the process.You have to give Warrensville credit, they shot the heck out of the basketball and did a great job.”
Harding battled back in the third quarter as the Raiders stepped up their defensive intensity and held the Tigers to just 10 points in the period, outscoring Warrensville Heights (9-8, 6-6 Lake Erie League) by 12 points and taking a four-point lead into the final frame.
Things looked promising for the Raiders (10-8, 4-8) early in the fourth as they built a six-point lead and seemed destined to pull away, but the Tigers found a way to come back.
Fatigue led to turnovers for the Raiders and soon their lead turned into a deficit they were not able to overcome.
“Our team is not real deep right now due to injury and illness, but we have been good playing fast all year,” Vlajkovich said. “But with the lack of depth tonight that really hurt us in the fourth quarter.”
Bell finished with a game-high 24 points and had five rebounds. O’sha Jackson scored 21 points and Greg Jackson added 12.
The Tigers had six players score in double figures, including Yavari Hall with 12 and Jalen Jackson with 11. Warrensville Heights’ Jermaine Brown dominated the paint with 13 points and nine rebounds.