South Range sending message with win over Salem

The Ritter brothers helped propel the Raiders to victory

South Range Raiders High School Basketball - Canfield, OH

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The South Range Raiders are preparing for a new league while also looking to win their current league. They sent a message Tuesday night that they are ready for both with a resounding 70-50 victory over the Salem Quakers at home.

The victory pushes the Raiders record to 10-0 on the season while avenging a 20-point loss to the Quakers last year. It also gives them a chance to set a new winning streak record Friday night when they host Southern Local. The Quakers drop to 3-5 on the season.

“Tonight was a chance to tie the all-time number of wins in a row (to start the season). Two other teams had done that and since we are going into that league (EBC) we wanted to at least send a message that we are going to be competitive in that league. And we want to prove to ourselves that we are going to be competitive,” Raiders coach John Cullen remarked.

“This is huge. All four times we have played them we have lost,” Raiders senior Dan Ritter said. “We came close two years ago, we got killed last year, and to come out here and get a huge win tonight is great. It feels great.”

After the Raiders led 19-8 at the end of the first quarter, and 26-21 at halftime, they started to pull away starting in the third period. They went up by ten at 33-23 when Anthony Ritter hit a bucket with 4:53 remaining in the stanza.

That is when the Quakers made an 8-2 run propelled by two three’s by Mitch Davidson and Garrett Dickey to cut the deficit down to just 4-points at 35-31 with 3:42 left in the quarter. Smartly, Raiders coach John Cullen called a timeout.

“We thought we had a charge and it kind of bothered our kids, they got a three after the no-call. Then they got two more three’s, then we called a timeout. I probably should have called it earlier,” Cullen admitted.

After the stoppage in play, the Raiders seized the momentum by going on a 15-0 run. Anthony Ritter and Mark Vennetti both hit three’s to help lead the charge for the Raiders as they held a 48-31 lead at the end of the third period, and grabbed a 50-31 lead moments into the final frame.

“Then we got on a 15-0 run. The kids kind of just got back into their game,” Cullen explained. “Sometimes they just have to get refocused. For the rest of the game, we pretty much played steady and realized our enemy was the clock and not them so much.”

“We just took it (momentum) right back from them,” Ritter said of the big swing in the game after the timeout. “When they cut it to four we said to each other that we are ending it right now.”

“Yeah, that is when Chase (Akerman) got his fourth (foul). We don’t have another 6’6 guy to bring in off the bench, so that really hurt us,” Quakers coach Rich Hart explained. “We had to try to be creative and they just hit some shots.”

The Raiders would push their advantage to as much as 20-points at the 7-minute mark at 53-33, but Salem would battle back to cut the deficit down to 14 at 59-45. They would get no closer as the Raiders went on an 11-5 run to close the game.

Dan Ritter had a game-high 22 points in the contest to lead the Raiders while Vennetti, Anthony Ritter, and Brandon Youngs all scored in double digits, 11, 11, and 10 respectively Jaxson Anderson recorded 8 points. Anthony Ritter would lead the Raiders with 8 rebounds on the night.

“We just need to get healthy,” Hart said. “We’ve been battling that all year. One guy out and we just don’t have the depth right now to have a piece missing. I’m proud of the way our kids competed, they didn’t back down. But we need to be a little smarter on our fouls.”

The loss overshadowed a great performance by Mitch Davidson who scored 21 points, including 5 three’s. Akerman was held to 9 points while Jon Gerace scored 8. Zack Bezon recorded 5 rebounds to lead the Quakers on the boards.

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