RAVENSWOOD — Starting its 100th year of basketball in program history here Saturday night inside The Pit, host Ravenswood turned it up a notch after holding an 8-6 lead after one stanza and used a 33-point second quarter to help fend off Wirt County, 59-45.
Prior to the game, the Red Devils honored alumni from the 1922-1969 seasons. Current members of the Red Devils passed out commemorative coins to the alumni before taking to Mick Price Court donning their throwback uniforms that honored the style from 1951-56 with the jersey lettering being styled like the 1963-68 squads.
Wirt County’s first lead was at 3-2 when Connor Hoover drained a 3 with 4:51 left in the opening period.
The first points of the season for the Red Devils came on a Logan Alfred layup 1:49 in. Buckets by Ashton Miller, Beau Bennett and Matthew Carte gave the hosts an 8-3 lead, but coach Price’s squad didn’t score again in the final 3:16. DeShawn Middleton, who finished with 19 points to tie Carte for game-high scoring honors, had a steal and converted a three-point play to keep the Tigers with a deuce after the opening eight minutes.
Middleton, though, picked up his second foul early in the quarter after the Tigers grabbed a 10-8 lead. Aiden Cheuvront, who finished with eight points, scored via a Brandon Richards assist and Middleton canned two charity stripe tosses.
Ravenswood, which will eye a 2-0 start when it heads Tuesday to Buffalo, proceeded to score the next 17 points to take control. Middleton was forced to check back in after falling behind 25-10, but he picked up his third foul a little more than a minute later.
Consecutive skip passes from Drew Hunt to Bennett, who finished with a baker’s dozen, resulted in a pair of triples about 30 seconds apart. Ravenswood forced Wirt County into 13 turnovers in the quarter and recorded 11 steals. Shawn Banks’ steal and three-point play made it 25-10 with 4:50 left in the half.
The Tigers, now 0-2 with a home game Monday versus Gilmer County, only trailed 28-17 following a Caleb Axley trifecta from a Ryan Lautar dish, but RHS closed out the period by scoring 13 of the final 15 points to forge ahead 41-19 at intermission.
“We played tonight like we practice,” admitted coach Price, who got nine points from Banks along with seven apiece by Hunt and Miller. “We’ll practice good for 20 minutes and we’ll practice terrible for 30 minutes. We’ll practice good for 20 minutes and practice terrible for 30 minutes. I have harped and harped about telling our kids you are going to play like you practice.”
“I thought Wirt County played hard tonight. I thought their kids did a good job. I thought (head coach) Chase (Mills) did a really good job. They had a good game plan. Maybe we’ll settle down and come to practice on Monday and maybe these guys will get the idea we got to do a better job in practice because we got Buffalo and Wahama, both on the road, (this week).”
Trailing 51-23 after Carte followed his own miss with a make, the Tigers used a trio of 3s to close to within 51-32 entering the fourth. Lautar hit a pair and Middleton had one.
Nine straight points to open the fourth had the orange and black thinking comeback. Middleton had six counters in the spurt and Cheuvront connected from deep to make it 51-41, but the closest the Tigers got the rest of the way was at 53-44 with 2:17 remaining following a Richards hoop.
Carte finished with a game-high seven caroms and Miller added six. Hunt had a game-high five assists and Carte followed with four. Carte also had a game-high six steals with Hunt swiping four. Middleton had three steals and joined Hoover in leading the Tigers with five boards apiece.
Contact Jay Bennett at email@example.com