By DAN POMPILI
The Warren G Harding Raiders got off to a great start Friday night at home against Bedford. A 12-2 run got things going on a night when the Raiders always seemed to be a step ahead of the Bearcats.
Until the last minute.
Key turnovers at the worst possible times whittled a six-point Raider lead down to three, and put the ball in the hands of Bedford’s Aaron Beidleman with just three seconds left.
Beidleman had already found the net from beyond the arc three times previous. This shot was just the one that sent the game into overtime tied at 55-55 and Bedford eventually beat Harding, 64-58, in double-overtime.
“Up six points with a minute to go, there’s just no excuse for that. I guess that’s on me,” said Harding coach Andrew Vlajkovich. “Some might call it a lucky shot, but you’ve got to give the kid credit, too.”
A 10-4 run at the end of the first and a flashy second quarter opening got Bedford (6-2, 3-2 Lake Erie League) back into the game quickly and the game stayed close throughout.
The Raiders (5-3, 2-3) hit nine 3s on the night and seemed poised to hold the Bearcats at bay.
“I thought we came out and really executed, it was set play, set play, set play and we really bought into it, after that we got out of that rhythm,” Vlajkovich said. “It was poor execution and poor fundamentals against pressure.”
During that stretch, from the 2:57 mark of the third quarter, Warren made just five field goals, four of them 3s.
“There were matchup problems for us with our bigs, we couldn’t guard them with our big guys,” said Bedford coach Matt Miller. “I’m lucky to have two senior guards on the floor who’ve been in these situations before, they didn’t panic.”
Bedford’s 6-foot-9 center Dawud Fisher-Grace and 6-5 forward Shamar Jeffrey spent a lot of the night on the bench and Fisher-Grace contributed just three points. Jeffrey never scored.
But senior guard Chris Carter thrived. Carter led the Bearcats with 25 points, including three 3s and 10 of Bedford’s points in its second-half romp leading into overtime. He wasn’t alone, either.
Beidleman dropped 20 on the Raiders, while Miles Meredith added 16.
Both teams scored three points in the first overtime, but Bedford outscored Harding, 6-0, in the second.
Mik’Quan Dorsey led the Raiders with 20 points and 10 rebounds, including five 3s, and Bell had 19 points and nine rebounds.
The Raiders play at Lorain tonight.