The Wapahani Raiders have now defeated the Yorktown Tigers twice this season. The first time was in the county championship game. The second was Saturday’s regular season match at Yorktown high school where the Raiders won 54-46.
“It came down to us just being strong with the ball,” Wapahani head coach Matt Luce said. “I thought it was a real physical game. We needed to hit a few more free throws, but we found a way to win and when you win 20 games in high school basketball, it means you have a really good team and a really good coaching staff.”
Their 20th victory started out with good defense on both teams. At the four-minute mark of the first quarter, Wapahani (20-1, 8-0 MEC) had six points and Yorktown (14-7, 4-2 HHC) had zero. According to Luce, it was the Raiders’ plan.
“Make them take tough shots and keep them off the free throw line,” he said. “And we did that for the majority of the game. The fourth quarter was a little different. But we were just trying to make it hard and I thought we did a nice job of that.”
Even though Wapahani’s defense was a big key, their offense had its moment. Starting the second quarter, both teams were tied at 11. But then the Raiders went on a lengthy scoring run and led 24-13 a few minutes later.
Once they completed the run, senior forward Nathan Nelson said the focus was to just play their game.
“We just played our game in the second quarter,” he said. “We really locked in defensively. I don't think it was our offense tonight. I think we really, really stayed strong and in the second quarter, held them to two points. I think that was the main factor for us.”
With this being the second time that the Raiders defeated the Tigers, Nelson knows how important this game was.
“Tonight was our 20th win,” he said. That's a big achievement for us, playing on the road. Yorktown is good enough to beat us and you know, we didn't really know what to expect tonight. But we stayed with each other and handled the adversity.”
Leading the charge for the Warriors was senior guard Aidan Franks with 14 points. Nelson finished behind Franks with 12.
“We have a well-rounded machine,” Luce said. “We have guys that know their roles. We have guys that believe in each other and they make the extra pass. It helps when your two best players are willing to give the ball up and make the right play.”
Even though the Tigers failed to catch up with the visitors, there were some solid performances from the team. Senior guard AJ Dunn finished with 22 points and junior guard Jacob Grim followed with 19.
The Tigers will look to get back in the win column when they face Mount Vernon (13-8, 4-2 HHC) next Friday, Feb. 24. For the Raiders, they will try to secure a conference championship when they play conference rivals Shenandoah (9-12, 4-5 MEC) on the same day.