CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – Sometimes games don’t always live up to all the hype, but on Tuesday night at South Range’s gymnasium the game between the undefeated McDonald Blue Devils and South Range Raiders delivered, and then some.
The Raiders survived a valiant charge in the fourth quarter by the Devils to survive 73-66 in overtime. The Blue Devils, which came into the game as the State Division IV number one ranked team suffer their first loss. The Raiders improve to 14-0 on the season while McDonald now carries a 12-1 mark.
“It was a thrill,” Raiders forward Anthony Ritter exclaimed. “I’ve been waiting for a game like this all year. Once we found out that they were number one in their division we got even more hyped up about it.”
“We knew this was going to be a tough basketball game tonight,” Devils coach Jeff Rasile said. “It is what it is. It prepares us for the tournament. I thought down the stretch we didn’t get many breaks.”
With just 1.8 seconds remaining, and the Raiders trailing 63-62, the Raiders Dan Ritter was fouled under the basket, sending him to the free-throw line. With a chance to win the game, Ritter missed the first shot but sunk the second to send the game into an extra session.
“I thought the call at the end (of regulation) was questionable after all the banging that went on the last two minutes. I just don’t like the call,” Rasile remarked. “I didn’t feel we got many calls down the stretch, but that’s life.”
“I was concerned the whole cotton picking time to be honest with you,” Raiders coach John Cullen joked about the exciting finish. “The thing is you have got to be able to give yourself a chance to win. Overtime is not a scary thing when you have an experienced group.”
“We were getting a little nervous,” Anthony Ritter admitted. “But we knew we just had to stay focused and poised. We were going to give Dan the ball in that area and he was either going to make it or they were going to foul him, which they did.”
The Raiders would then connect on five of eight free throws in the overtime to outscore the Devils 10-3 in the extra frame to pull out the victory. The Devils would also commit two costly turnovers in the extra period to doom their effort.
The Raiders led 23-18 at the end of the first quarter when Dan Ritter connected on a jumper with just 1.5 seconds remaining in the stanza. They would then push their advantage out to a game-high 9-point lead at 27-18 early in the second frame. Dan Ritter would connect again just before intermission with another basket to give the Raiders a 37-30 lead at halftime.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of coming out and attacking in the first quarter,” Cullen said. “They’re too talented if you try to pass it around too much. They are so long in their length and their anticipation.”
But with the start of the second half, it was the Devils’ Braedon Poole who came alive as he scored 9-points in a Blue Devils 11-4 run. The Devils would tie the game with just over 5-minutes to play in the quarter.
“Braedon is a superstar,” Rasile exclaimed. “Defensively he has to get better. He needs to stay in the game defensively.”
Poole would lead the Devils on the night with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Evan Magill would add 16 points and Zach Rasile tallied 11. Dylan Portolese grabbed 8 rebounds to lead the Devils on the boards.
Despite Poole’s big performance in the quarter, the Raiders would close the period with a 14-6 run to hold a 55-47 advantage at the end of three periods of play. Once again the Raiders would connect on a key basket just before the buzzer as Mike Cunningham connected with a layup as time expired in the period.
In the fourth quarter, it was Poole again leading the Devils by hitting on a three-pointer at the 4:43 mark and then a basket with 3:55 left in the game to give the Devils a 59-58 lead. The two teams would trade the lead four times in the final 2-minutes of the contest.
Brothers Dan and Anthony Ritter would lead the Raiders on the scoreboard with 17 and 16 points respectfully. Jaxson Anderson came off the bench to contribute 14, and Brandon Youngs added 11. Dan Ritter would also lead the Raiders with 9 rebounds.