South Range wins share of ITCL crown

The Raiders topped Crestview 80-27, to win at least a share of their third consecutive ITCL title.

COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – The South Range Raiders are preparing themselves for the stretch run heading into tournament play. They displayed their focus Monday night in a dominating 80-27 win over Crestview on the Rebels home court. The win improves the Raiders to 16-2 on year and 6-0 in the ITCL’s Red Tier. The Rebels fall to 12-7, 3-2 in the league.

“If we could bottle that, wow,” Raiders coach Tony Matisi said of his team’s focus. “We couldn’t ask for anything more.”

The Raiders held the Rebels scoreless in first quarter while they raced out to a commanding 24-0 lead at the end of the frame. The Rebels would not score until the 7:31 mark of the second quarter when the Rebels Alexis Gates hit a basket to make it 26-2.

It was the Raiders defense that helped power their run as they forced the Rebels into 27 turnovers on the night, converting many of those Rebels miscues into points and a 39-11 halftime score.

“The thing we are most pleased about is the defense.” Matisi said. “I don’t think we ran a (offensive) set for maybe six minutes. Everything was off transition, off steals. We preach defense, but wow, I’m very happy, very happy.”

“We were just ready for this game,” Raiders guard Morgan Czopur remarked. “We have been talking about it and we knew if we lost we would be sharing the ITCL. So we came out there and gave it our all.”

Czopur would lead the Raiders with 27 points and 5 steals on the night while forward Maddie Durkin added 20 points in addition to her 12 rebounds. Also scoring in double digits for the Raiders were Sammy Patrone with 15 and Bri Madie with 10.

“They’re a great team. They’re well coached, they have size, they have speed, they have great guards, I just give them credit,” Rebels coach Rick Gates said. “They are the best team in our league. They play physical. Our girls played timid tonight, they played like they were young.”

Alexis Gates led the Rebels in scoring with 10 points. Emma Smith grabbed 6 rebounds to lead the Rebels on the boards.

If we can build consistency like this it would be great,” Matisi said of his team. “That’s what we’re looking for this time of the year. It’s a good thing to see.”

The Raiders have just four games remaining on their schedule including two league games and two non-conference games against West Branch and Canfield.

“Which is great,” Matisi exclaimed of the games against bigger schools in West Branch and Canfield. “I can’t wait to see how we match up.”

The first of those games will be next Monday when they host East Palestine. The Rebels next contest will be Thursday night when they will travel to East Palestine.

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