Strong second quarter powers Harding past Fitch
Bowden scores 29 for the Raiders
By BROOKE MEENACHAN
A dominant second quarter by the Warren Harding boys basketball team was too much for Austintown Fitch to overcome in Saturday’s 74-49 victory for the Raiders.
Fitch trailed 15-11 at the end of the first quarter of the Division I sectional game.
“We became a little passive offensively,” Fitch head coach Brian Beany. “They started to get up in us a little more, started to make our first initial pass a little more difficult and pull us out away from the basket more than what we liked.”
The Raiders outscored Fitch 21-5 in the second quarter and went into halftime with a 20-point lead.
“I thought the whole first half we guarded as hard as we’ve guarded all year with some good discipline,” Raiders head coach Andy Vlajkovich said. “We got off to a poor offensive rhythm.
“We found our rhythm in the second and turned it up a little bit.”
Harding also turned it up on defense, forcing 11 turnovers, including three five-second violations.
“Defense is a constant,” Vlajkovich said. “Sometimes I fear that our offensive fuels our defense and it has to be the other way around. Or both.
“But it can’t be where you stop guarding just because the offensive end isn’t going well, but I didn’t think we did that,” Vlajkovich said.
Vlajkovich said his team had some issues on the offensive side at the beginning of the year that reflected their defensive energy, but that wasn’t the case Saturday.
“We’re pretty good at the open floor. We’re trying to get there with the pressure, turning people over, rebounding it and running,” he said.
Lynn Bowden led Warren Harding with 29 points, 20 of which came in the second half.
“We just played really hard,” Bowden said. “That’s it. We have a chip on our shoulder and we’re going to keep coming hard.”
Beany said Bowden is “tough to guard out there. He’s the biggest and strongest kid in every game that he probably plays. There’s no doubt he’s hard to guard.”
Mike Hughes scored 22 for the Raiders.
Fitch (5-18) was led by Emanuel Daukins’ 13 points and Randy Smith’s 12.
“We had basically zero experience coming back,” Beany said. “So, these guys battled every single game. Our record doesn’t indicate really how these kids played all year, but they battle.
“They battled these guys. They just have more skill than we do.”
Harding’s next game is a rematch against Akron Ellet. The Raiders beat Akron Ellet last season on a buzzer-beater in overtime.