Canfield, OH (WYTV) – The South Range Lady Raiders have not had many close games so far in the early part of the 2014-15 season, but that was certainly not the case Monday night in a hard-fought 60-54 win over the Western Reserve Lady Devils. The victory pushes the Raiders record to 8-0 on the season, while the Devils drop to 5-5.
“I hate Christmas break,” Raiders Coach Tony Matisi said. “They get out of a routine and forget about it. I knew Steve (Western Reserve Coach) would have them ready to play. He does a fantastic job.”
“I think we are getting better. We’re hanging in there, we’re starting to figure out what all of our roles are,” Devils Coach Steve Miller remarked.
The two teams battled throughout the contest with neither having more than a four point lead in the first half. The Devils would take a slim 3-point lead into the intermission at 24-21. But at the start of the second half the Devils began to pull away as they went on an 8-3 run and led by a game-high 9 points at 32-23 with 5:33 remaining in the quarter.
“As far as game plan, I was very proud of my girls. I thought we rebounded the ball well tonight, considering South Range’s size,” Miller added.
But it was just a minute later that the Raiders got a kick start from their bench. Senior guard Kelsey Phillips came to hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to pull the Raiders within six at 34-28. That three seemed to give the Raiders the momentum they needed as they closed the quarter with a 12-6 run to knot the game at 40-40 at the close of the quarter.
“I was happy to see the second half, I think we were down by nine. But I thought Kelsey Phillips’ three (pointer) just turned the game like that,” Matisi explained.
Raiders starting senior guard Jordan Youngs tied the game with two free throws as time expired in the third quarter. She would add two more free throws to start the fourth frame, giving the Raiders their first lead since early in the second frame at 42-40. But it was a three-pointer by Youngs with just 2:41 left in the game to give the Raiders a lead they would never surrender.
“Usually at halftime we are not down. I saw that a couple of our players were in foul trouble so I felt as a senior I need to take it upon myself to just step up for my team and make some more shots and stay focused,” Youngs explained.
Youngs would finish the game with a career high 20-points, leading all scorers in the contest. She would connect on two three-pointers, and was a perfect 8 for 8 at the charity stripe.
However, it was the Raiders freshman forward Madison Durkin who came up big in the final moments to seal the victory for the Raiders. With the Raiders leading 55-52 with 43-seconds remaining, Durkin nailed two free throws to pull out a 5-point lead for them at 57-52. She would add one more free throw 21-seconds later to push the advantage to 58-52.
“I could kick myself, we use the press to set tempo, but I should have come out of it earlier,” Matisi said. “They weren’t turning the ball over and it didn’t seem to affect them.”
In addition to Youngs 20-points, Durkin knocked down 14 on the night while Ashley Sharp added 13. Sara Durr would pull down 7 rebounds to pace the Raiders on the boards.
The Devils were led by Rachael Maslach with 15 points and 7 rebounds, while Aleah Hughes added 14 points and 8 boards.
The Raiders would win the JV contest by a 31-14 score. Sam Patrone would score a game-high 12 points.
Courtesy: Lowell Spencer