Moore down stretch more than enough for Harding
By BOB ETTINGER
Warren Harding boys basketball coach Andy Vlajkovich and senior Delmar Moore may not have agreed upon a few things through the first three quarters of Tuesday’s All-American Conference battle with rival Howland.
But they agreed on how well Moore played over the final eight minutes of a 45-43 victory.
“We had a disagreement about his effort level,” Vlajkovich said. “A very strong disagreement about the first three quarters. Delmar did Delmar things after I voiced my displeasure.
“He’s a great kid, but he does waver out of concentration sometimes.”
Moore’s focus was laser sharp to start the fourth period as he scored six points in the Raiders’ 8-0 spurt over the first 2:44 of the quarter. That run put Harding ahead 43-37, with 5:16 remaining.
“He’s just so long,” Howland coach Dan Bubon said. “Coaches are like teen-aged girls, we all talk about what’s going on. When Delmar came back, we were all complaining and wondering why we couldn’t have a kid like that.
“I thought we did a great job on defense. He got two or three shots off that weren’t perfect, but he has such a soft touch, they still went in.”
The win gave the Raiders (11-6, 9-2 Red) a share of the conference title with just one league game left. The Tigers (12-5, 7-3) fell into a tie for second with Canfield.
“This is about as easy a group as you can imagine [coaching],” Vlajkovich said. “They make mistakes, like most kids make mistakes, but it’s rarely because of a lack of listening.
‘This has probably been the most enjoyable group I’ve had. They’re just great kids. A lot of people put a premium on talent. Sometimes, you have to put a premium on character. That locker room has a lot of character.”
Howland made a run at sending the game into extra periods after two free throws in separate bonus situations put the Raiders up, 45-39, with 37.1 seconds to play.
Frank Rappach made good on a pair of free throws with 15.5 seconds remaining and Connor Tamarkin made a steal and the layup with eight seconds left to get the Tigers to within a bucket, 45-43. Then Tamarkin missed a layup just before the buzzer and Nathan Barrett’s putback missed as time expired.
“We were down six with 30 seconds to go,” Bubon said. What a great comeback. We had a chance to win or tie. “I was hoping Connor would pull up for a three for the win. He had an open lane to get to the basket and he took it. It was the right decision.”
Tamarkin had staked Howland to a 35-28 advantage midway through the third with five of the Tigers’ 10 second-half points to that juncture. He finished with 19 points.
A 3-pointer from Chris Williams had the Raiders to within two, 37-35, to start the fourth.
Dom McGhee netted 12 of his team-high 14 points as Harding took a 20-17 lead through the first eight minutes.
Moore ended with 10 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.