Ravens keep growing together, run past Rovers

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By Jim Manion | Correspondent

The Ravenna Ravens posted an easy Portage Trail Conference cross-division victory Friday night over the visiting Rootstown Rovers in a contest that was never close.

The victory for the Ravens moved Ravenna back to the .500 mark with a 4-4 overall record when they coasted to a 56-21 verdict.

Ravenna jumped out to a 14-0 tally in the first quarter as the Rovers turned the ball over nine times.

Ravenna 6-foot-6 forward Jermaine Justice scored eight of those 14 first-quarter points.

The Ravens' height took advantage of the Rovers all night and controlled the boards 39-19, with Justice playing head and shoulders above the Rovers most of the night.

Rootstown's offense just could not find the net and were shut out in the first quarter and only scored 2 points in the final eight minutes.

Justice finished the night with a game-high 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Tyler Conley hit a pair of 3-pointers for the Ravens and finished the night with 10 points. Warren Bradley scored six points and also pulled down six rebounds for the winners.

Ravenna scored 14 points in each quarter as the team continues to distribute the ball for many assist baskets.

"We played all 13 guys and 10 scored tonight," said a happy Phil Starks, Ravenna head coach, following the game. "Our guys are really looking for the open guys, we have been preaching that all season and we have a lot of unselfish players on this team. Overall, it was a great team effort despite a slow start in our transition game to start," Starks said.

Rootstown (0-7) scored to open the second quarter, but Ravenna's Conley retaliated with his first 3 of the game and then Justice followed with a tip-in to push the lead back out to 19-4.

Ty-Shawn Dukes went to the hole for a basket with 3:04 remaining in the first half and gave the Ravens a 25-10 advantage. For the next three minutes both teams committed six turnovers each, until Conley hit his second 3 for Ravenna at the halftime buzzer for a 28-10 Raven lead.

Second-year Rootstown head coach Steve Beshara was discouraged following the contest.

"We are a young team and we knew coming in that Ravenna is better than us. It's not so much about winning or losing, but about five guys playing together and I thought last week against Mogadore we really played together and took a step forward," said Beshara. "Tonight, I do not feel like we are in sync. It's hard for me to accept, we have two or three guys on the same page in one possession and then it's just the opposite the next time the floor."

Ravenna pushed the lead out to 42-19 after three quarters before outscoring Rootstown 14-2 in the final eight minutes. The Rovers had only five players hit the scoring column, with Conner Formick and Tyler Skipper each collecting six points. Evan Ferrell collected six rebounds for the Rovers.

Both teams do not get a rest and will close out the 2012 calendar tonight. The Ravens travel to Stark County for a battle with Louisville, while the Rovers will host Lake Center Christian.

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