RACINE, Ohio — Fans of defense were in for a treat.
The Southern and Ravenswood boys basketball teams were held to season-lows in points on Wednesday night in Meigs County, with the Red Devils taking a 47-35 victory in non-conference play, their closest decision of the campaign.
Ravenswood (5-0) never trailed in the game, scoring the first six points in the opening 3:10. However, Southern (5-3) ended the first quarter with a 5-to-4 run, cutting the Red Devil lead to 10-5.
The Tornadoes trimmed their deficit to just one point, at 12-11, in the opening 1:45 of the second period, but RHS closed the half with a 9-0 run and a 20-11 lead.
The guests pushed their lead as high as 13 in the third quarter, but settled for a 10-point, 31-21 lead headed into the fourth quarter.
SHS sank three straight field goals to start the finale, cutting Ravenswood’s lead to three-points, at 31-28, with seven minutes to play. The Tornadoes never got closer, however, as RHS made 10-of-12 free throws in the fourth, helping to seal the 47-35 victory.
“We were obviously not on our game offensively, but their defense had a lot to do with it,” SHS head coach Jeff Caldwell said. “When we do have those layups, we have to make them. Then when you go to the foul line, you have to be able to hit foul shots too. When a team makes you work so hard to get a good look, you have to take advantage of them when you get them, and we didn’t tonight.”
For the game, Southern shot 13-of-51 (25.5 percent) from the field, including 6-of-18 (33.3 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, the Red Devils shot 13-of-41 (31.7 percent) from the field, including just 1-of-12 (8.3 percent) from deep.
The Red and Black were an impressive 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) from the charity stripe, where SHS made just 3-of-12 (25 percent) tries.
“I was very proud of our guys, for their effort on the defensive end,” Caldwell said. “If you would have told me that someone would come in here and score 47 points, I’d say that’s a win for us and it should be usually. I don’t know if we’ll play anyone that plays physical, hard-nosed defense like they do.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach (Mick) Price and Ravenswood’s program,” added Caldwell. “That team is going to be tough to beat in West Virginia at the state level. Our kids certainly showed something hanging with them.”
The Red Devils dominated the glass, winning the rebounding battle by a 44-to-20 count, including 12-to-7 on the offensive end. Southern earned a 9-to-8 edge in assists and an 8-to-5 advantage in steals, while RHS earned a 3-to-2 advantage in blocked shots.
Southern turned the ball over 11 times in the game, while the victors gave the ball away 18 times.
“Coach Caldwell does a great job here,” Price said. “Sometimes coaches get way too much credit when you win and way too much complaining when you lose. You can tell with the program, that he’s done a really good job. I’m glad to see what he’s been doing with his team, I want them to be competitive when we play. I think he’s doing a great job and his kids are responding well.”
The Purple and Gold were led by Weston Thorla with 12 points, nine of which came from beyond the arc. Brayden Cunningham hit one three-pointer and finished with seven points, to go with a team-high six rebounds.
Trey McNickle scored four points and grabbed five rebounds in the setback, while Austin Baker and Jensen Anderson both connected on a triple and finished with three points each. Dylan Smith, Coltin Parker and Austin Vancooney rounded out the Tornado scoring with two points apiece.
Smith and McNickle tied for a team-high with three assists apiece, while Smith and Vancooney both came up with three steals. Cunningham rejected a pair of shots in the setback.
Isaiah Morgan — who hit Ravenswood’s only three-pointer — led the victors with 23 points, 14 of which came from the free throw line. Jayden Rhodes scored 10 points for the guests, Chase Swain added eight, while Stephen Dawson had three points and team-highs of three assists, two steals and two blocks.
Alex Easthom and Lakin Tucker rounded out the RHS scoring with two points and one point respectively, with both players hauling in 11 rebounds.
“We’re still young and we’ll learn from these games,” Caldwell said. “When you get into January you can’t use the young excuse anymore, you have to learn from situations and get better. I’m really proud of them, because I think they worked really hard tonight and they stayed in the game when they were struggling offensively.
“It doesn’t get any easier, we go to Nelsonville-York on Friday night and it’ll be another challenge for us,” Caldwell added. “These non-league games are going to be good for us, they’ll help prepare us for the league games we have coming up in the new year.”
The Tornadoes’ 2017 finale will be at NYHS on Friday, beginning at 4 p.m.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.