WGH tunes up for tourney with win over Boardman

BOARDMAN – Against Boardman on Tuesday night, the temptation of the 3-ball was too much to resist for the Warren G. Harding Raiders, and despite the struggles from beyond the arc, it didn’t come back to haunt them.

Posting a 5-of-18 performance from beyond the arc, Harding managed to beat potential sectional-final opponent Boardman, 41-27.

“The 3s were tempting because we’re all guards,” Mik’quan Dorsey said. “So, we can shoot the ball, but we were looking for lanes, and they did a pretty good job of closing the lanes. We were shooting the 3s, but we couldn’t make them.”

The Spartans (3-16) tempted the Raiders (11-8) into the outside shooting with their defense.

Boardman deployed its usual 2-3 zone, and this defense was slightly exotic for Harding. The Raiders played against a couple of teams that used a 2-3 zone, but coach Andy Vlajkovich and Dorsey, who scored a game-high 12 points, said that the team wasn’t quite prepared for what the zone had to offer.

“It kind of bothered us a little bit,” Dorsey said. “We’re used to just fastbreak, get it off the rim and -go in all the league games. So, it slowed us down, and we really couldn’t knock down shots.”

Vlajkovich couldn’t fault his players for taking the 3s, however. In most cases, the shooters had wide-open looks on the shots but would rim out.

“Even though we were a little 3-happy, I didn’t think they were bad 3s,” Vlajkovich said. “If those go in, we’re feeling real good about ourselves. You make shots, it makes a bigger difference.”

Still, Vlajkovich said that he would have liked to see Harding force the ball inside more in order to create an inside-out game, rather than completely relying on perimeter shots.

The Raiders tried at points to drive to the basket, whether on the fastbreak or against the zone, but the team received five charge calls against it, including three within a minute-and-a-half span late in the second quarter. These made a bulk of Harding’s 18 turnovers in the game.

“I loved our effort, I like our chemistry but I hated our fundamentals,” Vlajkovich said. “I thought our kids played really hard and I thought that we played together, but we weren’t as crisp as we need to be and as crisp as we have been at times this year.”

Harding made up for its offensive woes on the defensive end, pressuring the Spartans up and down the court and forcing 18 turnovers through three quarters.

Boardman scored no more than eight points in a quarter and shot 28.2 percent from the field in the entire game.

“I knew that if we could play better defense than we had last week, we’d give ourselves a chance to win,” Birch said. “I thought our guys did that tonight, but unfortunately, when the ball doesn’t go into the hole, it’s pretty hard.

“Credit Harding – they sped us up, made us turn the ball over.”

The Raiders return to action Friday at home against Lorain.