NORTH JACKSON, OH (WKBN) – As they say, records are meant to be broken. Monday night in a match-up of two undefeated ITCL teams, numerous first and records were set in South Range’s 53-45 victory over Jackson-Milton. With the win, the Raiders remain perfect on the season at 10-0 while the Blue Jays suffered their first loss of the season and now stand at 9-1.
The win also marks the 400th career win for South Range’s head coach Tony Matisi. But he is the first to admit that he really wasn’t focusing on the milestone, “I really didn’t look at it. I looked at our first ten games and I really wanted to be right where we are at. I can honestly say that I wasn’t counting down, but the girls were made aware of it. They made me more aware of it. Yeah, I’m glad it’s over.”
“I’m just honored to be a part of it,” Raiders sophomore forward Maddie Durkin said. “It took a team effort ad I’m so happy for him. That’s a lot of wins.”
“Like Maddie said, I’m so honored to be a part of this,” Raiders guard Taylor Naples remarked. “As a first year starter and have him win his 400th game, I’m just so proud of him. He’s definitely one of the greatest.”
It wasn’t easy though for the Raiders as the Blue Jays recorded two significant first on the season against the Raiders. The first was leading them at halftime as the Blue Jays carries a 23-17 advantage into the locker rooms at intermission, and the second was holding the Raiders to single digit scoring in a quarter for the first time this year when the Raiders only managed 5-points in the second.
“I’m excited about that,” Blue Jays coach Pat Keney remarked. “My kids gave everything they had. Thee kids worked hard. We played a good team tonight and their shots were falling and ours were not. When you play a good team you learn from that. They gave me everything I could possibly ask for.”
The Raiders held an early lead as they were up 12-10 at the end of the first quarter, and even stretch out their advantage to 3-points at 14-11 with just 6 minutes remaining in the stanza. But when the Blue Jays would retake the lead for the first time since the opening minutes with 5:25 remaining in the half. They would close the half with a 8-3 run to hold that 23-17 lead at the break.
But with the start of the second half the Raiders would go on a 11-4 run to start the quarter and would finish the quarter outscoring the Jays 23-10. They would hold a 40-33 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
“We had confidence and we had motivation,” senior guard Morgan Czopur said of the team at halftime. “”We never felt like we were losing at halftime so we just went and pushed the ball. We just had to keep going.”
Early in the fourth quarter Naples stepped up and connected on two three point shots as the Raiders pulled out to a 12-point, 50-38 lead with 2:11 remaining. However, the Blue Jays were not finished as they continued to battle to the end, cutting the deficit down to just 5-points at 50-44 with 1:12 remaining. Durkin and Czopur would both convert foul shots in the final minute to seal the game in the closing moments.
Naples would also set a new mark as she would lead the Raiders in scoring with 16-points, the first time another Raider beside Durkin or Czopur led them in the scoring column.
“It was definitely different,” Naples admitted. “We’re always use to getting the ball to Morgan or getting the ball to Maddie because they make everything. Tonight it was definitely different for me to have to step up, but I’m glad we got the job done.”
In addition to Naples’ 16-points, Czopur would add 15 and Durkin tallied 13.
The loss overshadowed a tremendous performance by the Blue Jays junior guard Ashley Totani who had a game high 20-points. Michaelina Terranova also scored in double digits as she netted 15-points on the night.