WGH girls win opener in tourney

Tribune Chronicle / Brian Yauger Warren G. Harding’s Kamarah Bender drives to the hoop Saturday in the Raiders’ 60-35 tournament win over Kent Roosevelt.

WARREN — The Warren G. Harding Raiders are off to the next round of the Divison I girls basketball tournament after taking down Kent Roosevelt, 60-35, Saturday at Harding.

The Raiders got off to a bit of a slow start, trailing 16-14 after the first quarter.

“We have to come out with more energy, we came out very sluggish, kind of the way we practiced the last couple days,” Harding coach Frank Caputo said. “We brought that into the game. You play how you practice and that’s exactly what we did. The good thing was we came out and made some adjustments, they listened and some things started to fall. Have to fix it for the next one.”

Harding, the sixth seed in the Ravenna District, visits third-seeded Austintown Fitch on Thursday in a sectional bracket final. That winner advances to the district semifinal round at Ravenna High School.

After a talking to from Caputo, the Lady Raiders went on a tear in the second quarter, outscoring the Rough Riders, 18-4.

“I told them ‘it’s time to step up,'” Caputo said. “This is the last home game you’re going to play all year, let’s end it on the right note. They came out, got some things done. The freshmen sparked us a little bit, Makalia Powell. She had a good game for us. Hoping to just keep building on that.”

The Raiders’ offense continued to shine as it has for most of this season. Kamarah Bender led the team, scoring 18 points. Indea Phillips scored 15 and Gia Green and Nalida McQueen added eight and seven points, respectively. Powell scored five points and brought down three rebounds.

Harding also had a dominant performance on defense. The Raiders outrebounded the Rough Riders 43-36. Phillips had 11 rebounds and Green and Karlie Heilman each brought down seven.

Kent Roosevelt’s first quarter nearly outscored their other three quarters. They were held to single-figures after their 16-point opening quarter, scoring four in the second quarter, nine in the third and four in the fourth.

Leading Kent Roosevelt was Adreane Crockett who scored 18 points, 10 of which came from the free throw line.

Harding was swept by Fitch in their two prior meetings, the latter a 76-75 heartbreaker. Caputo is hoping to get some good bounces and capitalize off of that.

“Absolutely a tough game,” Caputo said. “They’re a very good team, he (Falcons coach Dan Schnurrenberger) does a great job with them. We’re hoping to show up ready to play, have things fall the right way and we’ll see what we can do.”