WARREN - First games for most teams usually have the so-called opening-high jitters.
It was hard for either team to find a rhythm with the freshman and JV games both pushing the varsity contest back an hour and five minutes off schedule.
The Raiders began the game toggling back and forth with Ursuline for the better of the first quarter, down one nearing the second quarter Friday at WGH's gymnasium.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Warren G. Harding’s Tyron Howard looks to take the ball to the basket as Ursuline’s Kevin Jackson (30) defends during second-half action Friday night.
Then, WGH found its mojo and rolled past the Fighting Irish in the first game for both teams, 71-52.
The Raiders, which were down 12-11 late in the first quarter, scored the final four points of the first en route to a 22-3 run that spanned most of the second quarter. By that point, the Raiders held a 33-15 advantage and never looked back.
"Because we're not very big or a grind-it-out team, we're going to hit our rhythm at some point," first-year WGH coach Andy Vlajkovich said. "We hit our rhythm in the second quarter. We're a pressure-oriented team. Sometimes, teams can withstand that pressure for certain periods of time. Tonight, you noticed that we got in our rhythm a little bit."
Ursuline coach Keith Gunther said his team was not patient.
"Our intensity on defense was horrible," he said. "We didn't jump to the ball, box out and get back in transition. To their credit, that's how they got up defensively and got up in us. It caused us some problems, their strength and athleticism."
Mik'quan Dorsey paced Harding with a game-high 21 points, while Gregory Jackson added 13.
"I didn't even feel that Mik'quan had 21 tonight," Vlajkovich said. "He just played with that effort, that kind of effortless when he didn't force anything. He just scored it. We have a couple of guys that can do that. He happened to be the guy tonight."
Gunther was impressed with Dorsey.
"We thought Dorsey was a man out there - his size, his presence and his attitude," Gunther said. "His presence made a world of difference on how they competed against us."
Defensively, Osha Jackson held Ursuline's Ryan Strollo to 12 points. Preston Williams added 11 for the Fighting Irish.
"I thought Osha did a great job of not letting Ryan get shots," Gunther said. "They knew that coming in. We thought we could get him on some back cuts and flares, but they did a great job on him."
Ursuline was 20 of 59 from the floor, 3 of 15 from 3-point range and 9 of 23 from the foul line, while Harding was 28 of 49 from the floor, 6 of 16 from 3 and 9 of 15 from the stripe.
It was one of three games WGH won Friday. The freshmen and junior varsity teams won as well.
"I'm glad it got off to a good start," Vlajkovich said. "I'm happy for our kids and happy for our whole program - three wins tonight."