By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
A slow start doomed the Ravenna Ravens' hopes of pulling an upset over Salem in Friday evening's Boardman Division II Sectional final as the PTC Metro Division program fell, 70-53.
Salem jumped out to an 8-0 start, forcing Ravenna head coach Phil Starks to call a timeout to rally the troops. But the timeout was just a Band-Aid as the Quakers never truly broke a sweat en route to the win.
Salem is now set to take on Southeast in a Boardman District semifinal game on Tuesday. The Pirates upset Niles McKinley 76-67 in double-overtime in the first game of the evening.
Ravenna ends its season at 13-10.
Starks said that Salem's fast start effectively sucked the air out of the gym for his underdog team.
"Going into this game, we knew our guys were going to need confidence and that start didn't help," Starks said. "Salem is a good team, but we just weren't getting enough shots to fall at the start of the game."
Salem held Ravenna to 16 first-half points while cruising to a 31-17 halftime lead. Forward Anthony Shivers led the way for the Quakers in the first half, scoring 12 of his game-high 23 points, while teammate Ryan Bush added nine of his 12 points as Ravenna struggled to find any traction.
Ravenna senior forward Jermaine Justice was the lone bright spot of the half, scoring 10 points, while no Ravenna teammate scored more than two points in the first two quarters.
Justice finished with a team-high 21 points and also pulled down nine rebounds. Justice was the lone Ravenna player to finish in double figures on the evening.
"I was really impressed with the way Jermaine played tonight," Starks said. "We had some concerns with how he would perform (against Salem), but he played to the level of some stiff competition tonight."
Ravenna began to gain ground offensively in the second half as eight players scored in the final two quarters, but the Ravens were never able to pull any closer than seven points before giving way down the stretch.
Brendan Webb and Zach Economous each knocked down 3-pointers for Salem during the second half as the Quakers saw their lead push out to 20 points at times in the fourth quarter.
Economous finished with 10 points for Salem in the win, while Webb ended with 12 points.
Starks said that the opening-round exit to his team's season was a difficult one to swallow -- especially for his seven seniors, including Justice, Kyle Spellman and Tate Bennett.
"I've spent a lot of time with these seniors and I really feel for them," Starks said. "You try to tell the kids that there is no tomorrow for them in a playoff scenario like this, but sometimes it doesn't always (register).
"Those kids are off to the real world now, and I just want nothing but the best for them."
Bennett added five points for Ravenna, while sophomore guard Warren Bradley scored six points in the losing effort.