WGH slips past East

WARREN – Although the Warren G. Harding Raiders added to their win column Tuesday night, it felt like anything but that for coach Andrew Vlajkovich.

Vlajkovich saw his team squander a 14-point lead in the final quarter to hang on for a 63-60 win over East.

“That seems to be a trend for us this year, and I was embarrassed of our fundamental play,” Vlajkovich said. “For some reason, we get all emotional and caught up in the game. We just get in a hurry and all out of whack.

“I’m not happy at all with our fourth quarter. I hate to say this, but I feel like we lost. If that game lasted one more minute, we may have.”

For the Raiders (7-5), the wheels started coming off because of turnovers.

With the Panthers (9-4) using a full-court press, Harding started throwing the ball around, committing 13 turnovers in the final 8 minutes. Overall, the Raiders committed 33 turnovers.

East used the miscues to turn the game around, recording nine steals and scoring 10 points. The Panthers went on an 18-6 run over the first 7 minutes of the fourth quarter to pull within two at 59-57.

Harding pushed the lead back out to five points following Jautice McDonald’s and King Garner’s trips to the foul line and held on for the final 30 seconds.

Mik’quan Dorsey took the blame on himself for the turnovers and said that he and his teammates hurt themselves more often than not.

“We started to turn the ball over, and as a senior, I put that on me,” Dorsey said. “I had a lot of turnovers. That won’t happen again.

“It wasn’t really them – it was more of us. I didn’t get us in the right places. They made the steals, but it was more of us.”

The final minutes were a far cry from Harding’s blazing start.

The Raiders couldn’t miss from beyond the arc to start the game, especially Dorsey. The senior guard drained three 3-pointers in four Harding possessions from the 6:40 to the 5:14 marks in the first quarter, which allowed Harding to take an early seven-point lead.

The others seemed to feed off that, with Anthony Bell and Gregory Jackson hitting 3s on back-to-back possession to take a nine-point lead in the second quarter.

Then, early in the second quarter, the Raiders ran out to a 20-point lead with 4:07 remaining in the second quarter, thanks in part to a 13-2 run to start the period.

In the end, Dorsey had five 3s and recorded a game-high 18 points.

“It was real important to start off as hot as we did because we ended about as cold as you could,” Vlajkovich said. “(Dorsey) is a good player. It’s what he does. He let the game come to him tonight, and he happened to be the guy who got hot.

“He’s taken a leadership role with this group, and he gets rewarded with some good nights.”

Still, Vlajkovich said that his team must play with more consistency and learn how to take care of business down the stretch.

“We have to take care of the basketball, we have to play with poise and we have to finish people off,” he said.