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Raiders stay hot

Ivory’s 22 points leads Harding past Ursuline, 55-52 for 5th straight win

Staff photo / Neel Madhavan Devonte McElroy (30) goes up for a layup Tuesday evening as Ursuline’s Jayden Payne (12) attempts to block his shot. The Raiders came out on top against Ursuline with a 55-52 win.

WARREN — First, Ursuline’s Terrance Pankey went to work. Then, Warren G. Harding’s Tyirq Ivory took over.

With Ivory forced to sit most of the first half in foul trouble, Pankey carried the Irish offensively with 17 first half points. But, when Ivory came back in the second half, he went off.

Ivory scored 20 second half points as the Raiders held off a late charge from Ursuline to beat the Irish 55-52 Tuesday night.

“He just killed us,” Ursuline head coach Keith Gunther said. “Anytime he’d pass the ball, he would just cut right down the lane and he would get layups or he’d get out in transition and get lay ups. Our whole game plan was to try and not let him touch the ball. We told (the players) if he got rid of (the ball), he was going to cut right down the middle and he did it over and over and over again.”

In order to try to prevent Ivory from getting into the paint and cutting down the lane, the Irish ran a 3-2 zone.

Harding (7-4) head coach Keelyn Franklin said his team wanted to try to get the ball into the middle of the zone to force the Irish (10-7) defenders to collapse on the ball so that they could find open cutters along the baseline near the rim.

“Their big kid was usually stepping up to contest so we were looking for those bounce pass layups on the backside,” Franklin said. “We were trying to get the ball to Duncan (Moy) and Tyirq in the middle.”

Pankey helped build Ursuline’s quick 7-0 start to open the game, but then eventually cooled off a bit after his big first half. He still managed to finish with 23 points to lead all scorers.

Harding adjusted its defensive approach to guarding Pankey in the second half to try to slow him down.

“We wanted to make him see bodies,” Franklin said. “We put Tyirq on him, but we knew (Ivory) was in foul trouble, so when (Pankey) drove, we had to have guys ready there to help and ready to close the other shooters. So, it was a challenge, but we managed to dig it out when we needed to.”

Despite trailing by nine at the end of the third quarter, the Irish weren’t done.

Ursuline scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to try to climb back into the game, out-scoring Harding by six in the period — but it wasn’t enough.

Four different Ursuline players scored at least four points in the quarter, led by Vinny Flauto’s 10. But even as the Irish scored, Ivory always had the answer — scoring 10 of his 20 second half points in the fourth quarter to help keep the Raiders in front.

“I thought (Jayden) Payne carried us in the second half with his inside presence,” Gunther said. “But overall just not gritty enough to win games like that –not hard enough, not tough enough. To win games like that, you have to be gritty and tough defensively and we weren’t.”

Ursuline got as close as a one-possession game, 49-46, with 1:51 left, but couldn’t keep Ivory from scoring a layup and hitting two free throws to ice the game.

“I told our guys, if we held him to 15 or under that we had a good shot at winning, and I thought we did a good job on Moy,” Gunther said. “But, Ivory just killed us. He doesn’t only kill you when he has the ball in his hands, but he’s a really good passer too. He’s one of the greatest athletes to come out of this area and everybody knows that. Hats off to him — I hope he gets a chance to get to the next level and represent the area.”

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