The McMahon boys basketball team overcame a tough start and a halftime deficit to defeat visiting Harding, 68-58, on Feb. 16, in a game rescheduled after the recent snowstorm.
It was a rewarding victory for the Senators, during a season in which wins have been hard to come by. McMahon improved to 4-15, and Harding fell to 5-12.
The Presidents jumped out to a 21-12 lead through one quarter of play and led 32-26 at halftime, but the Senators fought back. McMahon turned up the pressure on defense in the third and fourth quarters, holding Harding to just one field goal through the first 12 minutes of the second half.
"Defense was the key. We allowed them to get to the hoop the entire first half. Our defensive rotations weren't there," McMahon coach Ken Dustin said.
We made the adjustment at halftime."
Dustin was pleased with how his team responded on the defensive end after the intermission, with players helping each other out in the man to man defensive setup. "They did a really nice job of making sure they owned up to their mistakes they made in the first half," the coach said.
That defensive effort, coupled with some strong work with the ball, enabled the Senators to turn a deficit into a double-digit lead by the early stages of the fourth quarter.
Down 35-32 midway through the third, the Senators knotted things up on a Larry McKinney 3-pointer. McKinney (who led the way with 26 points) added a foul shot with 2:43 to play for a 36-35 lead, and the Senators never relinquished the advantage. McKinney cashed in off a McMahon steal to give the Senators a 38-35 lead. After a Harding foul shot, Andrew Rivera weaved to the rim to give the home team a five-point lead.
Leading 43-38 in the waning seconds of the quarter, the Senators pushed their lead to eight. Brandon Christie forced a steal and converted a 3-point play with a bucket and foul shot for a 46-38 lead with 21.3 seconds to play in the third.
The Senators maintained their momentum well into the fourth. Delquon Howard sank a 3-pointer for an 11-point lead.
Allen Lenard got to a defensive rebound and was fouled. He made two free throws for a 51-38 lead. Christie followed with a 3-pointer, making it 54-39 with 4:45 to go. A pair of McKinney free throws extended the lead to a game-best 17 points.
McKinney and Lenard both had late-game blocked shots, but Harding found a resurgence by forcing turnover and creating baskets to make a game of it toward the end. The Presidents pulled to within 59-50 with 2:10 left and 61-53 with 1:16 to go, but the Senators didn't allow their foes to get any closer.
"We got some steals, made some free throws, kept attacking, made a few shots, and didn't let them back in it until the end," McKinney said.
The Senators made their share of foul shots as they sank 19 of 22 from the line. Harding was just 13 for 27. Channing Thomas, Christie, Jordan and Lenard all had six points and Howard scored five.
"Any time you've got to fight back it's always a nice win. I wish we were able to get a few more but hopefully we can turn it around," Dustin said.