CHESTERLAND _ After two weeks of defensive frustration, Ravenna has finally returned to the hustling defense coach Mark Kinsley desires.
The Ravens shut down West Geauga's offense for most of Tuesday night's Western Reserve Conference cross-division game, at one point holding the Wolverines scoreless for five full minutes early in the fourth quarter before escaping with a 64-57 road victory.
"We needed a big night out of our defense to get this win," said Kinsley. "It was a big game for us. We hadn't played very well for the last two weeks. But we had two really good days of practice, and we needed that to get the intensity back we had been lacking. The effort was there on defense (last night) and that is the key for us to be successful."
Ravenna (7-6, 3-5 WRC) also had a good night on the offensive end of the court, with four members of the Ravens' starting lineup reaching double figures.
Charles Proctor led the way with 14 points, followed by Marcus Sanders (13), Greg Gaski (12) and Brandon McIntyre (11).
Sanders set the tone for the game late in the first quarter, pulling down an offensive rebound and flipping in an off-balanced shot over West Geauga's 6-foot-5 center Derek Gabrielsen. The basket pulled the Ravens into a 10-10 tie with 2:15 left.
Just 20 seconds later, Sanders gave Ravenna its first lead on a short jumper in the lane. The Ravens never trailed again.
Ravenna built its lead as high as 10 points on three different occasions in the first half before West Geauga's Pete Moran brought the Wolverines back, penetrating to score four late points and dishing to Gabrielsen (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Eric George for two other baskets that cut Ravenna's lead to 32-26 at the half.
But West Geauga (6-7, 2-6) had to play the second half without the senior point guard after he was injured driving down the lane just 17 seconds into the third quarter. Moran (8 points, 7 assists) lay on the court with an injury to his right ankle that delayed the game nearly a half hour.
"That was very unfortunate," said Kinsley. "I talked to the guys during the delay and told them that they needed to stay aggressive. They had put themselves in a good position to win the game with the way they played in the first half, and they needed to take advantage of that."
Ravenna built its lead as high as 14 points on a 3-pointer by Matt Samaco with 2:53 remaining in the game.
After a series of turnovers helped West Geauga pull to within five points with 40 seconds left, Proctor hit two layups in the game's closing seconds to seal the win.