By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
If you're going to split halves with your opponent, it's better to take the second half.
Ravenna played a great first half on Friday night, but faded in the second as Norton picked up a 76-57 Portage Trail Conference Metro Division victory.
The Ravens hung with the Panthers, who are largely considered the division's power team this season, during the first half. To do so, Ravenna, limited its turnovers while showing a willingness to fight for every possession.
Those themes put Ravenna (1-2, 0-1 PTC Metro) behind 30-29 at the half.
"I told the guys at the half that if we played in the second like we did during the first half, then this game would come down to the wire," Ravenna veteran head coach Phil Starks said. "Unfortunately, we just ran out of gas in the second half."
Ravenna jumped out quickly in the second half as Kyle Spellman tied the game at 30-30 with a made foul shot, while teammates Jermaine Justice and Tyler Bayless scored on consecutive possessions to give Ravenna a 34-30 lead.
Unfortunately for the Ravens, that is where the team's momentum peaked.
Norton (2-1, 1-0) responded to its first deficit since the second quarter by going on a 13-0 run that built a lead it would not relinquish.
The feisty Panthers forced six Ravenna turnovers during the run and converted them directly into 10 points to build a 43-34 lead before the Ravens' were able to relocate the rim.
Norton's Tyler Sherman scored nine of his team-high 16 points during the run as the Panthers flexed their significant size advantage in the paint.
Norton out-rebounded Ravenna 40-27 on the evening, with a majority of the boards coming on the offensive end.
"(Offensive rebounds) were a big thing for Norton tonight," Starks said. "They were able to get a lot of second-chance opportunities on offense and that was something we couldn't compete with."
Sherman finished with a team-high 10 rebounds, while fellow post players Aaron VanBuskirk pulled down nine boards and Dakota Pratt reeled in four. Pratt also finished with 15 points in the winning effort.
Guards JaVonte Smith (11 points) and Jay Ventura (13) also finished in double figures for the Panthers.
For Ravenna, Justice was the only player to reach double-digits with his 19 points, which went alongside his team-high six rebounds. Spellman scored nine and senior Tate Bennett put in seven points, including one of Ravenna's two 3-pointers.
Starks said the loss stung, but he saw some positives that his team could build on.
"I was happy that our kids didn't hang their heads and start to pack it in," he said, referencing the game's second-half slip. "The positive is that this is one of the hardest places we'll play this year, and we get (Norton) again at our house."