CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The Western Reserve Blue Devils and South Range Raiders are undergoing a youth movement. On Thursday night, it was the Devils that showed signs of growing up in a 45-43 victory on the Raiders home court.
After falling behind 17-7 to start the game, the Devils head coach Steve Miller received a technical foul at the 5:44 mark of the second period. From there, they started to pick up their game as the Devils went on a 14-5 run to close the half and trailed by only a point at 22-21 at intermission.
Maddy Owen came off the bench for the Devils late in the first period to help propel the Devils run as she scored 9 of her 11 game points in the stanza.
“I told the girls at halftime, if I knew they were going to pick up the pace due to a technical foul, I would have done it sooner,” Miller remarked.
“I told Maddy that she doesn’t need to go 90 miles an hour,” Miller added. “If she uses her speed at the right moments, she is hard to defend. I wouldn’t want to defend her.”
Despite the good start for the Raiders, head coach Tony Matisi did not feel good about his team’s position.
“Yeah, we hit some threes, we’re not a three-shooting team,” he said.
Another key factor in the Devils run in the second stanza was the Raiders top scorer Maddie Durkin getting into foul trouble as she picked up her third foul in the period.
“Was getting Maddie (Durkin) in foul trouble part of our game plan? Yeah, she is a great player, but once our girls saw that our plan was working, they started getting confidence and really grinding it out,” Miller explained.
The Raiders looked to take control of the game once again to start the second half as they raced out to 27-21 lead following a three pointer by the Raiders Sam Patrone just 58 seconds into the half. But the Devils would gather themselves and close the frame with a 8-6 run to make it 33-29 in favor of the Raiders after three quarters of play.
With Durkin picking up a fourth foul early in the final quarter, the Devils took full advantage as they went on a 7-0 run to take a 36-33 lead with 5:46 remaining in the game. The Raiders would take their final lead of the game at the 4:22 mark when Durkin was back in and drilled two free throws to make it 37-36.
Junior Gabbie Baranowski nailed a jumper at the 2:40 mark to give the Devils the lead for good as they took a 38-37 lead. From that point, the Devils connected on 7 of 12 free throws in the final two minutes to seal the game away.
“This was a big win. They are a team we haven’t beaten in a long time,” Baranowski remarked.
Baranowski led the Devils in scoring on the night with 16 points in addition to Owen’s 11 while Alexis Hughes hauled down 6 rebounds.
The Raiders were led by Durkin with 17 points and 6 rebounds while Taylor Naples added 9 points.
The Devils improve to 2-1 on the season as they will play at Leetonia Saturday. The Raiders drop to 0-2 on the season, suffering their second straight 2-point loss.
“If we played well in those two close losses that would be one thing, but we are not playing very well right now,” Matisi admitted.