Harding rides defense to beat Mooney, get back at .500

Raiders make Cardinals’ life difficult




Warren G. Harding boys basketball coach Andy Vlajkovich knows full well what the Raiders need to do in order to win games. That said, so do the Raiders, who executed the plan well in a 50-37 victory over visiting Cardinal Mooney on Thursday night.

“We have to guard,” Vlajkovich said. “And we do. We don’t have the offensive firepower night in and night out. We have to hang our hats on guarding people. That’s not easy to do. I have to give this team a ton of credit. They will do it. We’re at our best when we’re in transition, but we have to guard to be able to get into transition. The team knows it has to be consistent defensively getting stops.”

The Raiders (4-4) held Mooney (1-7) to 14 of 37 shooting and made life difficult on the Cardinals.

“Their pressure definitely bothered us,” Mooney coach Carey Palermo said. “We missed 11 layups. Their length had something to do with that and we turned over the ball a bit. I think we handled it OK. It might not have looked pretty, but we did OK. We just didn’t finish. We weren’t in any kind of fluid rhythm on offense. Credit them for that. It wasn’t pretty at times, but we should’ve converted on more layups than we did.”

Harding scored the first five points of the second period behind a putback from Tyre Marlowe and three free throws from Chris Williams to take a 19-12 advantage with 5:57 to play in the first half. D’Montize Owens scored consecutive buckets to make it 23-14 with 3:31 left in the half.

The Raiders led 25-18 at the break.

Mooney moved back to within six, 42-36, with 4:23 to play following buckets from Johnny Murphy and Pete Haas and a free throw from Anthony Fire, but the Raiders didn’t allow them to close the gap any more.

“We settled a little too much for threes and maybe shot a few too many pull-ups,” Palermo said. “We didn’t get to the line at all in the first half and got 10 free throws in the second half. That was better. We’ve got to go stronger to the hoop. Missing those shots from point blank… Those are momentum killers. When you miss a wide open layup, you miss out on two points, but the whole way way down the court, the whole team is thinking about it.”

Marlowe led the Raiders with 12 points, Terrion Jackson had 11 and Dom McGhee added 10.

Haas paced the Cardinals with 14 points and Jordan Stanford chipped in with nine.

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