Ravenna with a thrilling 4th quarter comeback win over Niles McKinley 54-52 to advance in Sectionals
Ravenna, OH- On Tuesday night the Ravenna Ravens hosted their first postseason game in many years at James L. Coll Gymnasium. They were coming off of a stellar 17-5 regular season and their first league title since 1979. In their way were the Niles McKinley Red Dragons who came into Ravenna after a 10-12 regular season. Ravenna would have to go to war in this one without leading scorer Justice Haven who was out with an illness.
Ravenna won the opening tip and got off to a big start in quarter one. Mason Ross scored five of the first seven points as the Ravens ran out to a 12-0 lead before Matt Kozak was able to score inside for Niles to stop the bleeding. The Red Dragons would go on to score the final seven points of the quarter with five of them coming from Kozak. The Ravens lost Maykai O'Neal to a leg injury three minutes into the game, but he was able to return late in the quarter. The Ravens led 12-7.
Ravenna came out in the second quarter with the same aggressive defense they deployed in the first. Niles McKinley was able to get their offense going a bit more in the second, perhaps fueled by the 7-0 run to end the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Red Dragons, they were unable to slow down the Ravens attack. Ravenna took their biggest lead of the game at 25-18 with 1:15 to play in the half after Bryce Moneypenny converted a pair of free throws. They would take a 26-20 lead into halftime. Mason Ross had 9 points and 5 rebounds for Ravenna while Matt Kozak topped Niles with 9 points of his own.
The third quarter was a big one for the visitors. Midway through the quarter the 6'4" Matt Kozak scored inside and was fouled converting the and-one free throw giving McKinley their first lead of the night at 29-28. They would go on a 13-2 run to open the quarter as they extended their lead to 33-28. The Ravens were able to regroup and close the quarter with back to back three's from Daveon Gregory and Marcus Gibson to regain the lead 34-33 heading into the fourth quarter.
Both teams went back and forth trading baskets for the first three minutes of the fourth before McKinley went on an 11-2 run to take an 8 point lead with just over three minutes to play. The Ravens were not ready to have their season end on their home floor as they struck back with six straight points capped off by a Mason Ross score cutting the McKinley lead to 48-46 with 2:05 to play. After an Anthony Budak score for Niles put them up by four, Maykai O'Neal hit a big three to make it a 50-49 deficit with 1:24 to go.
The next possession resulted in a steal for Ravenna and a run out that Pavel Henderson finished with a layup at the other end putting Ravenna up 51-50.
The Ravens defense held once again and Mason Ross was fouled on a converted shot inside but missed the and-one free throw leaving it a 53-50 Ravens lead. Red Dragons guard Robert Strickland was whistled for a technical foul giving Ravenna a chance to ice the game. Bryce Moneypenny was unable to convert the free throws leaving the door open for McKinley. Sam Perrone was fouled but only converted 1 of 2 free throws making the deficit 53-51. McKinley was forced to foul Emmanuel Miller who hit one of two and kept it a one possession game at 54-51.
In their effort to keep the Red Dragons from getting off a potential game tying three, Ravenna fouled Perrone with 0.7 seconds to play. He made the first and missed the second in order to try to get a quick put back, but O'Neal grabbed the rebound for the Ravens and the final buzzer sounded. Ravenna pulled out the thrilling Sectional win 54-52.
Mason Ross was big for the Ravens with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Marcus Gibson chipped in 10 points off the bench including a trio of three pointers. Pavel Henderson dropped in 8 points and was a beast on the defensive end all game.
Matt Kozak led the Red Dragons with 14 points and 6 rebounds.
The Ravens advance to the Division 2 - Region 5 Sectional Title game vs NDCL on Saturday night at James L. Coll Gymnasium.