By A.J. Atkinson | Correspondent
Despite a limited bench, the Windham Bombers outlasted the Ravenna Ravens on Friday night in Windham, holding on for a 72-68 victory in the season opener for both squads.
Ravenna head coach Phil Starks employed an effective full-court press for most of the fourth quarter, forcing 10 turnovers late in the fourth quarter to keep the Ravens in contention until the end.
"I'm very impressed with our defense," Starks said. "Those guys back there (the locker room) are upset about the loss, but they really showed a lot of heart by not folding their tent early and giving up."
The Bombers committed 26 turnovers in the game, which coach Marty Hill attributed to being the first game of the year as well as the absence of senior leader and All-Ohioan guard Matt Knight.
"We got sloppy at the end," Hill said. "We had open layups missed, which means we're slow to get back down the floor and defend."
For Ravenna, however, layups were a challenge until the end.
"If we made those missed layups in the first (half), we'd probably win by eight points," Starks said.
Ravenna senior forward Jermaine Justice was the main reason for the Ravens' comeback push at the end. Justice started the third quarter by scoring the Ravens' first five baskets. Justice scored 27 total points, 19 coming in the second half.
The 6-foot-7 Justice utilized his size advantage down low, using quick spin moves to follow up missed shots.
"He's really a great team leader for us," Starks said.
Justice matched up most of the night against Windham's leading scorer, sophomore forward Parker Rickey, who led his team with 20 points.
"Rickey showed great improvement over the summer and in camp," Hill said. "We knew he was going to be a very special player this year."