MARION — After playing close with Galion early on, Marion Harding’s offense and defense kicked into full gear as the Presidents rolled to a 68-29 win over the Tigers on Friday night in the Mid Ohio Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
The Presidents (1-1, 1-0 MOAC) rebounded from a season-opening loss to Delaware Hayes with their victory. The Pacers edged Marion Harding 59-56 on Tuesday in Delaware.
The Tigers (0-2, 0-1 MOAC) are still in search of their first win of the new season after falling to Upper Sandusky in the opening game on Tuesday. Head coach Ryan Stover praised his ballclub for battling from start to finish against Harding.
“I think we fought hard. We played hard,” Stover said. “Sometimes we can be a little undisciplined about some of the things we’re trying to teach, so we get out of position, we get out of shape, we get beat down the floor when we’re not supposed to. But I know we didn’t quit. We played all the way, and I know it was a running clock, but we played all the way until the end.
“I thought in the first half we played well, but we’ve just got to find a way to make shots. We turned it over a little bit, yeah, probably more than we should, but I think overall with (Galion) coming off a losing season last year, we’re slowly turning the corner. There’s a lot of effort.”
Galion took a quick lead to open the game when Rece Payne drained a three-pointer, but Harding then went on a 9-0 run to grab a six-point lead midway through the first quarter. Galion pulled to within 9-6 thanks to a three-pointer by Jaxon Oswald and stayed close at 11-8 after Quinn Miller knocked down a two-point shot. However, Harding put together a 7-0 run to close the period with an 18-8 cushion.
The Tigers again scored the first points of the second quarter, but then fell victim to the combination of an offensive explosion and defensive lockdown by the Presidents. Harding outscored the Tigers 24-9 in the period to claim a 42-17 halftime lead. The Presidents then cruised to the home win in the second half.
Three players reached double digits for Harding led by CJ Temple’s 15-point effort. Marquis Long contributed 14 points and Wes Stokes, a first-team All-MOAC selection in 2020-2021, added 13 points for the Presidents. A total of 12 players scored for Harding in the game.
Stokes’ stat line included five rebounds, three steals, and three blocked shots. Long had seven rebounds and three steals. Temple recorded four steals. The Presidents finished with 36 rebounds.
“We wanted to play hard and we wanted to have a good first impression on our home court,” said Presidents head coach Jamie Pearson, a Harding alumnus in his first season leading his alma mater. “It’s not always easy to get high school kids to play hard, so for us tonight we decided we wanted to go up-tempo a little bit and get our guys flying around a little bit. I knew Galion would play hard and for us it was just a matter of matching the intensity of Galion. For us it was to get up and down and it worked for us.
“I knew we had a little more depth than them because they’re young, but (Stover) will do a good job. He comes from a good program. They’ll continue to get better this season.”
Oswald led Galion in scoring with eight points and Payne finished with six points. Steven Glew added five points while Hudson Miller and Jimmy Hardy tallied three points apiece. Garrett Ison and Quinn Miller had two points each.
Galion finished with 19 rebounds. Ison and Glew had four rebounds each.
The Tigers will be back in action on Thursday at home against Clear Fork. The Colts (0-3, 0-1 MOAC) are also in search of their first win of the season. River Valley (2-1, 1-0 MOAC) handed Clear Fork a 68-46 defeat on Friday.
Marion Harding plays a key early-season matchup against two-time defending MOAC champion Shelby at home on Thursday. The Whippets (2-0, 1-0 MOAC) defeated Pleasant (0-4, 0-1 MOAC) 67-37 on Friday.