Kennedy Catholic too much for Harding


Kennedy Catholic too much for Harding

By BOB ETTINGER

sports@vindy.com

WARREN

Kennedy Catholic boys basketball coach Rick Mancino warned the Golden Eagles what they were to expect ahead of their contest at Warren G. Harding on Wednesday night. The Raiders didn’t disappoint despite falling, 59-37, at Harding High School.

“They didn’t back down,” Mancino said. “I knew they wouldn’t. I told the team coming over they would be athletic, they would play hard and they would be ready for us. There were times we didn’t look like we knew what we were doing and that was partially because of them. They were getting in our face. That’s what I told the players and that’s why we play Warren Harding.”

The Raiders (4-5) trailed the two-time defending Pennsylvania state champions by just five, 26-21, at the start of the third quarter and had proven to be everything they were advertised to be.

“We’re not the most talented team you’re going to see,” Harding coach Andy Vlajkovich said. “But over the last three weeks, this has become a special group of kids. The locker room is tight. Kennedy Catholic has three kids you’re going to see on TV. I love my guys to death, but we don’t. I’m really proud of their effort. Incredibly proud.”

The Golden Eagles (11-1) pulled away in the third behind a 7-2 spurt to start the second half and an 11-2 run over the final 3:55 of the period.

“We had a couple of live-ball turnovers that changed things,” Vlajkovich said. “There’s no defense for a two-on-one break. I thought we had some great offensive possessions, but their length was a problem. Their length absolutely destroyed us. We got in the right spots and had chances to finish at the rim, but they had a 6-10 kid who could bite the ball off the rim with his teeth.”

Kennedy Catholic led, 44-27, to start the fourth and held that advantage the rest of the way.

Oscar Tshiebwe paced the Golden Eagles with 22 points and 19 rebounds and Maceo Austin added 19 points.

Despite giving up the first points of the game on a steal and a layup by Manis Norman, the Raiders started strong. They used a 10-0 run to take a 10-2 advantage midway through the first period. Terrion Jackson netted five of those points, Dom McGhee hit a 3-pointer and Chris Hughes added a bucket.

Austin led the Golden Eagles with seven points as they scored 11 straight to get back in front, 13-10, with 44 seconds left in the opening quarter.

“We’re very fortunate,” Mancino said. “You can’t tell by tonight, but we have guys who have been getting offers for major colleges. They’re supposed to do that. We’re a good team with athletic ability. We not only blocked a lot of shots, but we changed a lot of shots. We’re a big team and we’re athletic when we play hard.”

Tshiebwe’s five points paced Kennedy Catholic’s 9-0 run over four-and-a-half minutes in the second to put the Golden Eagles ahead, 26-18, with 19 seconds remaining in the half before Jackson knocked down a triple with four seconds left to send the Raiders into the locker room down five, 26-21.

“It’s not complicated,” Vlajkovich said. “There’s no magic remedy. It was just a bunch of kids sitting down in their stances and being disciplined. Offense is skill. Defense is an effort and discipline thing. We’ve definitely come a long way. I feel for my guys, honestly. They busted their [butts] like that and got beat by 18. Kennedy International is a [darn] good team.”

Jackson led Harding with 12 points, Trivell Trimble had eight and McGhee added seven.

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