With a second-half burst fueled by senior Sam Harmon, Keenan defeated Spring Valley 64-50 in Thursday’s opening round of the Chick-fil-A Classic at Richland Northeast.
“Sam is a guy that, if you stay on him, he’ll come through for you, and he did that for us in the second half,” Raiders coach Zach Norris said. Harmon had 11 points in the second half, finishing with 17 to lead the game.
Harmon got the Raiders off to a fast start in the second half, with three consecutive buckets that pushed the Keenan lead to nine points, the highest in the game to that point.
With that, Keenan picked up steam to break away in what had been a close game through the first half.
Marcus Stroman’s undefended slam put the Raiders up 54-34 with a little more than eight minutes remaining. With 2:44 to play, Spring Valley trailed 57-46.
“It’s tough to be down to a team and have to play zone, but that’s what got us there and we wanted to stick with it,” Vikings coach Perry Dozier said. “I love the way we played in the first half … but we didn’t come out with the same intensity in the second. We spotted them a few points and found ourselves down 14 points and having to battle back.”
Keenan had taken a modest early lead, behind team leader Stroman. After posting six of his 13 points, Stroman picked up two fouls in less than four minutes of play and went to the bench with the Raiders up by three.
Keenan could not keep the Vikings off its heels, but Spring Valley could not close the gap.
Dozier said aggressive defense from sophomore forward Jordan Bruner and center Ja’lon Williams made a big difference in limiting Keenan’s inside scoring and keeping the Vikings close early.
When Spring Valley’s Rashad Zimmerman hit a 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game, Harmon answered with a three for Keenan.
A Bruner jam for Spring Valley was answered on the other end of the court with a Harmon hook shot.
Chris Bernard’s 3-pointer made it a 18-12 Keenan with 6:58 left in the first half, but seconds later, the Vikings’ Chris Adams took a half-court pass to the hole to cut it back to a two-possession game. Later, Adams added a 3-pointer, and with just over a minute left in the first half, Williams spun to the basket for a layup that cut the Keenan lead to 25-23.
The Vikings forced turnovers on two of Keenan’s last three possessions of the half, and the Raiders led 27-24 at the break.
“At halftime, I told the guys, it seemed like they were playing not to lose instead of playing to win,” Norris said.
Javontae Davis had 14 points for Keenan, and Chris Bernard had 12. Williams was the only Viking to post double-digit scoring, with 13 points.