WARREN - They say that all good basketball players want the ball in their hands at crunch time.
Warren G. Harding's Anita Brown had two basketballs in her hands Wednesday. Prior to the Raiders' game against East Cleveland Shaw, Brown was given the balls in recognition for setting the school single-game scoring record of 45 points in an earlier game against Shaw and for reaching the 1,000-point mark in her career.
Brown then went out and scored 26 points, including two key fielders in the fourth quarter, to lead the Raiders to a 55-42 Lake Erie League win over the Cardinals.
Tribune Chronicle / Mike McLain
Warren G. Harding senior Anita Brown, left, poses with Raiders coach P.J. Notar on Wednesday night.
It looked like Brown was intent on breaking her record when she opened with a nine-point first quarter. She added eight in the second period, but a two-point third quarter ended any thoughts of another 40-plus point performance.
That didn't matter to Brown, who was happy to do what she could as the Raiders improved their record to 9-5.
"I just wanted to get the win," she said.
Brown never thought she would score 1,000 career points, but her play Wednesday showed how she got it done. She mixed in a few short jumpers with strong drives to the basket.
"I didn't think I was going to get it (1,000 points) this year," Brown said. "I guess I kept playing, and it came by itself."
Raiders coach P.J. Notar isn't surprised by anything Brown does on the court. He knew good things were in store for her when he instructed her at McGuffey Elementary School.
"I've had her a very long time. Kindergarten I want to say," Notar said. "I always told her that, 'I'm going to coach you one day.' After I retired the first time it didn't look good. I came back, and God blessed us both, and here we are."
Notar expected the Cardinals to do something different defensively on Brown after what happened in the first game between the teams. The Raiders won that game, 74-53.
"We knew they were going to watch tape and figure something out," Notar said. "I'm sure they discussed it how do you stop the girl that scored on us the first time? They did a nice job being patient in their zone.
"We thought we'd hold it and they would come out and play us man. That's what we wanted them to do so we could use our athleticism and speed. They stayed in it, and possibly stayed in it too long."
The Raiders received their usual solid effort from Brianna McCurdy, who used her lightning-quick moves to score 17 points.
Chanel Davis kept the Cardinals within striking distance with 21 points. She had 19 through three periods but managed just two points in the fourth period.
"She's a nice ballplayer," Notar said. "We put a box-and-one on her. What we wanted to do was hope we slowed her down and get her under her average and force someone else to score who's not used to scoring."
The Cardinals trailed 16-11 after one period and 27-20 at halftime. Trailing 43-34 entering the fourth quarter, Shaw got as close as four points, 45-41. Brown then scored on back-to-back layups to give the Raiders some breathing room at 49-41.
"I wasn't too worried," Brown said. "Just play good defense and play it smart, and we knew we would finish the game alright."
Audreyanna Baldridge followed Brown's baskets with a fielder, and McCurdy made two foul shots to extend Harding's lead to 53-41.