By JIM MANION | CORRESPONDENT
Sometimes you just have to win ugly.
The Ravenna Ravens sneaked out of Aurora Tuesday night with maybe one of the ugliest wins of the season, but a win is a win and Ravens coach Phil Starks will take it. The new Aurora scoreboard read Ravenna 57, Aurora 53 as the Ravens bus headed down Route 43.
Ravenna needed a couple clutch free throws in the final minute of play, coupled with several missed opportunities by Aurora, to secure the victory over a Greenmen squad that has only found the win column twice this season.
Leading by four points inside the two-minute mark, the Ravens' high-speed running offense managed to turn over the ball four times and give Aurora chances to get back in the game. Joe Dinardo, who led the Greenmen in scoring with 11 points, hit a 3-pointer with one minute left in the game to bring his team to within two points at 55-53. Ravenna led by as many as nine points early in the fourth quarter.
Finally, after both teams ran the court and turned over the ball twice, Ravenna's Danny Miller and Tate Bennett each canned the front end of one-and-one free-throw opportunities to secure the final verdict.
Aurora (2-20) had a chance to get off a 3 in the final two seconds but the shot was blocked by Jasean Kelly.
"I thought we would come into the game tonight with the opportunity to get everyone in the game, but not the case," said Starks. "It's not like we don't go over game plans, and we are playing seniors out there. I told the team at half that if they let this team hang around they will really play hard in an effort to win, and they did."
The Ravens got off to a sloppy start with nine turnovers and only four points in the first quarter. Jermaine Justice opened the second quarter with a pair of layups to begin a 7-0 run that would knot the contest at 11-11 when Miller hit his first 3-pointer with 6:04 showing on the second-quarter clock.
Aurora's Paul Kollat hit a bucket inside and was fouled for a plus-one and a 14-11 Greenmen lead, but a pair of free throws by Josiah Coman and a 3 by Tyler Bayless put the Ravens back on top. Justice scored another inside basket to give his team a 19-14 advantage at the five-minute mark of the quarter.
Drew Daff scored four straight free throws and Aurora closed the first half with a 7-2 run to tie the contest again at 21-21 with less than a minute to play. Miller drilled his second 3 at the close of the half to give Ravenna a 24-21 lead at intermission.
The difference in the second half was the post play of Kyle Spellman, who finished the night with 13 points. Justice tossed in 12, while Miller hit three 3s and scored 10 points.
Aurora took an early lead to open the second half when Pavel Galchenko scored three buckets inside. He would finish the night with seven points, while Dinardo and Ben Branscom each collected 11.
Spellman hit a 3 in the third quarter, then opened the final stanza by knocking down a pair of three-point plays when he was fouled making points in the paint. His six points to open the quarter pushed the Ravenna lead to seven, 50-43.
Aurora coach Jim Wallish said his team would not quit.
"We lost several close games against some good teams," he said. "These guys just want to win so bad that sometimes I believe they just try to do too much. It becomes that much more frustrating because we get so close. We have a lot of young guys. The top nine guys in the program last year are gone from this team, so it will take some time."
Ravenna (12-9) will close the regular season this Friday when it hosts Springfield. The Ravens beat the Spartans 77-74 in the final seconds in their first meeting.