The Devils improve to 14-2 on the year, and 9-2 in the ITCL Upper Tier. The win keeps the Devils one game behind league leading Springfield. The Raiders fall to 2-14 on the campaign, and 2-10 in the league.
“The kids had a little extra step,” Devils coach Chris Huckshold said. “It was a redemption game, there’s no doubt about it. You know the way this season as gone, realistically you play a bad game you can lose any night. It’s boys basketball. If you don’t go out and put a good effort on the floor you can lose anytime. And we have had that happen a couple times, but to the testament to the kids, on a goofy week we broke routine. School off, no practices, play on a Wednesday, only one practice to get ready, their homecoming, all things that would really mess up a 16-17year old kid, and we overcame it.”
One of those kids that really came in focused was the Devils junior Avery Andric who scored a game-high 27-points, including hitting on 7 of 14 from behind the arc. The seven three pointers ties a school record in a game for the Devils.
“It just makes the basket seem bigger, you hit a couple then you get excited, most are going your way,” Andric remarked. “Toward the end of the game I missed a couple and I got less confident.”
“That tied the school record,” Huckshold said of Andric’s performance. “He tied it last year too. We tried to get him a couple shots at it (break record) at the end.”
The Devils left little doubt in the outcome of the game from the opening tip-off as they ran out to a 14-0 lead before the Raiders got on the scoreboard with only 1:21 remaining in the first quarter. They would close the first stanza holding a commanding 23-2 advantage.
“Yesterday in practice we scripted out the first five possessions, whether man or zone. We did it twice. Made sure we were ready to have a really organized start. We didn’t do one thing we practiced yesterday,” Raiders coach John Cullen explained. “I’m not putting that on the kids, obviously we did not make a good enough impression on them to get the game started right.”
The Devils continued to pull away in the second quarter as they started the frame with a 8-1 run, leading 31-3 at the 3:22 mark of the quarter. They would hold a 24-point 37-13 lead at the halftime intermission.
“When we get it going shooting from the outside, we can do some damage,” Huckshold said. “We put five kids on the floor that can all shoot. When you try to pack it in or collapse in, to take one or two away. Every kid on the floor made some good passes, and good kick-outs. We really, really worked on our execution after the Southern game, not forcing contested jumpers, being spotted up, get some penetration, get a kick-out, or hit the post player and let them kick it out. We did about as good of a job of that as we could tonight.”
The Devils would pull out to a game-high 31-points at the 2:20 mark of the third quarter when senior Matt Spencer connected on a three pointer of his own. The Devils connected on 11 of 25 three-point attempts on the night. But from there the Raiders would play even with the Devils to close out the game.
“In the second half we came in and completely step by step went over the things we were trying to do to take advantage of the strengths we have. In the second half we took advantage of a couple things offensively,” Cullen said of the Raiders second half effort.
Besides the 27-points that Andric scored, Austin Rutecki added 19-points and Josh Craig chipped in another 10-points. The Raiders were led by Garrett Anderson with 12-points.
“We’re young, one senior that’s battle tested. It’s easy when your young to lose focus in situations in certain games and when the lull of the season goes on. A coach will never reveal his expectations, but there are expectation that I have and right now we are full-filling them,” Huckshold said of his team.
South Range would capture the J-V game by a 30-23 margin, with the Raiders Dylan Rutledge scoring a game-high 16-points.
The Devils and Raiders will both return to action on Tuesday when the Devils will host East Palestine while the Raiders will travel to United.