Lorain edges Harding in back-and-forth battle

LORAIN – It was a wild, back-and-forth Lake Erie League contest Friday night between Warren Harding and host Lorain.

The Raiders had just made up a five-point deficit in the final 2 minutes with a 5-0 run and had re-tied the game at 56 on a short baseline jumper by Shondell Jackson, who led all scorers with 22 points, with 28.9 seconds left.

However, the Raiders allowed Lorain sophomore Daviere Andrews to drive right down the lane for a game-winning layup with 4.2 seconds left. Jarelle Johnson’s half-court heave came up short of the rim, giving the Titans a hard-fought 58-56 Lake Erie League win.

The Titans (5-5, 2-3) opened up the game with an 8-0 run, but allowed Harding (5-3, 3-2) to run off eight straight points of its own to tie the game after one quarter. From there, the Raiders never had a lead bigger than six points, and the score was tied at eight different times, including with 28.9 seconds remaining.

“I thought it was a great high school basketball game,” Raiders coach Andrew Vlajkovich said. “It was tough. It was a great environment. The crowd was loud. Lorain’s a good team – they’re athletic, they’re big, they’re strong. Tonight, I just thought they were tougher than us. They beat us up on the glass.

“I thought we did a good job of offensive execution and at times, I thought our defense was pretty good. But when things got tough and we needed a 50-50 ball, they beat us to every one. I don’t think we got one 50-50 ball all night, and I think that was the difference in the game.”

Lorain outrebounded the Raiders, 28-17. However, the Warren defense forced 19 turnovers, which allowed the game to be close.

Trailing 30-27 at the half, Harding opened the third quarter with nine unanswered points to take a 36-30 lead. But the Titans answered back with a 17-9 run to end the quarter and regain the lead, 47-45, setting up a wild finish.

“We have six starters, and Shondell plays starters minutes even though he comes off the bench,” Vlajkovich said. “He was good tonight. He was aggressive. He was getting to the rim. When he’s doing that, he’s a pretty good basketball player.”

Senior Anthony Bell and sophomore Shakem Johnson each added 10 points, while 6-foot-8 freshman Derek Culver added six for Harding.

Andrews led the Titans with 15, while Demon Hisle added 12 and Howard had eight points and a game-high seven rebounds off the bench.

“Any time you can beat a state-ranked team like that who is unbelievably talented, you’re doing something right,” Lorain coach John Rositano said. “I don’t think they were ready for our defensive intensity, and that was the difference in the game. Our defensive intensity and our pressure really wore them down a little bit and kept us in the game, because they are big, tall and talented.

“If you let them get any kind of rhythm offensively, they’re just going to torch it. And I thought we did a really, really good job of putting pressure on the basketball and taking them out of their comfort zone.”