rally from big
deficit, but fall
By BOB ETTINGER
Warren Harding coach Gabe Bubon isn’t one to mince words, for better or worse. Though he’ll take the Raiders’ 51-45 victory at East on Friday night, you get the sense he would hand it over to the Golden Bears if he could.
“They outplayed us,” Bubon said. “They outworked us and they outplayed us. We were up, 17-2. I don’t know what it is about kids now, but once one thing starts going well, they let up. We’re so mentally weak at times, it drives me nuts. They don’t know how to handle success. Give [East] Coach [Kevin] Cylar credit. They deserved that game. We didn’t deserve that game.”
Cylar, on the other hand, felt fairly good about the way his team battled from beginning to end.
“I definitely am [proud of my team],” Cylar said. “The last four games, we averaged about 30 turnovers. We don’t have a kid who played structured varsity basketball last year. I understand what we are. I know what I signed up for. We’re getting better. The kids are working hard at practice and they’re starting to listen.”
Two free throws from Elizah Smith broke a 43-43 tie for the Raiders (3-2) with 3:32 remaining in the fourth. D’Muntize Owens followed with a steal and layup 12 seconds later as Harding held on for the win.
“We had talked about them pressing when we got up, 17-2,” Bubon said. “We didn’t have to exert that much energy in taking that lead. We had a lot of turnovers. We shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation. We could’ve folded, but we didn’t I don’t like when a team outplays us and we win. That goes against the ethics of basketball.”
East (0-5) used a 10-0 run late in the first quarter to erase a 17-2 early deficit and outscored the Raiders 11-0 over the final four minutes of the half. Deland Richardson’s jumper at the buzzer gave the Golden Bears their first lead, 25-23, at the intermission.
“That’s who we are,” Cylar said. “We’re that tough, gritty team. We’re going to win games with our toughness, diving for balls on the floor and getting in passing lanes. We’re not an offensive juggernaut. We can’t afford not to be tough. We’re not blessed with a bunch of offensive guys, but we do have a bunch of tough guys.”
Harding took a 17-2 lead with 2:23 to play in the first quarter. With 22 seconds left in the period, it was 17-12 and the Raiders needed a surge late in the fourth quarter to take the win.
“You know what, kids are kids,” Bubon said. “At the end of the day, we won’t beat any good teams on the road with that type of mentality. We don’t have enough of a killer in us. I feel bad for [East]. They deserved that game. If you outplay me and beat me, I’ll tip my cap to you. I couldn’t be more disappointed in us. We don’t understand what a 32-minute work ethic is.”
Owens led the Raiders with 15 points, Dom McGhee had 13 and Elizah Smith added 10.
Carl Sadler scored 17 points and Richardson chipped in with 14 for East.