While sophomore guard Reginald Stewart tried his hardest to propel the Harding boys basketball team, his opposition had plenty of offensive punch of its own.

Staples senior guards James Frusciante and Peter Rankowitz scored 29 points apiece -- combining for 37 of their team's 47 second-half points -- as the Wreckers rallied past Harding for a 78-64 win on Tuesday evening.

Staples (6-5) trailed by two points at halftime, but pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Harding 27-12. Frusciante scored 10 of his team's first 12 points in the quarter to help the Wreckers quickly turn a deficit into a 43-37 lead.

"Their pressure (on defense) was some full-court pressure, back to some half-court pressure," Staples head coach Colin Devine said of Harding. "We just had to work together to beat the pressure and try to get good shots. And we did."

Staples scored the game's first 11 points, but Harding (3-8) stormed back behind a dominant first half from Stewart. The sharpshooting guard poured in 18 of his 28 points in the first half -- hitting four 3-pointers -- as the Presidents tied it late in the second quarter, 26-26.

"He plays so hard on both ends of the court," Harding head coach Charles Clemons said of Stewart. "Not having a deep bench, I really can't get him (rest), so I'm going to live with his mistakes. I know he's giving me full throttle."

Harding jumped ahead for the first time with 2:13 left in the half -- 29-27 on a conventional 3-point play by guard Kin'shawn Pettway -- and carried a 33-31 lead into the break. But the Presidents were unable to build off their momentum in the third quarter.

Keying off turnovers, Staples handled Harding's pressure defense in the second half and went ahead by as many as 15 points.

"We fought back," Clemons said. "But Staples is a good team, we can't have mistakes and breakdowns at crucial times because they make you pay for it."

Rankowitz, who got off to a hot start with 12 points in the first quarter, helped fuel Staples' fast-break offense in the second half. He scored 11 points in the third quarter, helping the Wreckers build a 58-45 lead heading into the fourth.

"It's all the execution we work on in practice," Rankowitz said. "We've been working on breaking the press and playing against teams that play us tough, like Harding did tonight."

Senior forward Ross Whelan chipped in 12 points for Staples, which has now won three straight since its four-game losing skid.

"We're definitely moving forward from some tough losses," Rankowitz said. "We're remembering why we had those losses, but we're putting them behind us."

Pettway and junior forward Tyrique Mcneil both scored nine points for Harding, while Davaun McAlister had eight.

The Presidents got to within seven points late in the fourth quarter -- 64-57 on a bucket by Stewart -- but never got any closer. The Wreckers responded with a 10-2 run.

dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour



Terrence Rogers 1 3-4 5 Dennis Hinds 1 0-0 2 Avery Monk 0 0-0 0 Jaymar Gaynor 0 0-0 0 Davaun McAlister 4 0-0 8 Jayvon Smalls 0 0-0 0 Tyrique Smalls 3 3-4 9 Reginald Stewart 11 1-2 28 Kin'shawn Pettway 3 3-3 9 Keniel Brown 0 0-0 0 Tyzhon Dixon 1 1-2 3 Okoe Narh 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 11-15 64.


Alexander Addessi 0 0-0 0 Nicolaas Esposito 1 0-0 2 James Frusciante 9 8-11 29 Joe Greenwald 0 0-0 0 David Katz 0 0-2 0 Jacob Melnick 1 0-0 2 Peter Rankowitz 8 10-10 29 Nick Ward 0 0-0 0 Ross Whelan 6 0-0 12 Darryle Wiggins 2 0-0 4. Totals 27 18-23 78.

HARDING 11 22 12 19 -- 64

STAPLES 20 11 27 20 -- 78

3-pointers: H -- Stewart 5; S -- Rankowitz 3, Frusciante.