Raiders overcome mistakes to stay unbeaten in win over Reserve

Brandon Youngs returns to action for the Raiders following a severe injury in the fall

Western Reserve South Range Basketball
Western Reserve South Range Basketball

CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The South Range Raiders remained perfect on the year following a hard-fought 48-44 defensive battle with Western Reserve Friday night on the Raiders home court. The Raiders improve to 7- 0 on the season while the Devils drop to 4-2.

With the Raiders leading 43-42 following a three by the Devils’ Riley Miller at the 2:40 mark of the fourth quarter, the Raiders’ Jaxon Anderson connected on four consecutive foul shots in the next minute of play to give them a 5-point, 47-42 lead. A basket by the Devils cut it to 47-44, giving them a chance to tie the game with two attempts at a three with under 30-seconds remaining. Unfortunately, both the shots by Riley Miller and Cole Dezee hit off the rim. The Raiders Mike Cunningham grabbed the rebound on Cole’s shot and converted a free throw with a tick under 1-second to seal the game.

“We really haven’t been in a close game and we looked like it,” Raiders coach John Cullen remarked. “We gave them chances to score, and there should be stops in those kind of situations. They probably out-played us tonight but we willed ourselves into that (win) in the end. It’s hard to win when you’re not playing very good and we didn’t play very good. I’d much rather learn from wins than learn from losses.”

“It’s a huge breakthrough because it’s going to be a tough week for us,” Anderson of the Raiders said of the importance of the win. “We’ll have a lot of momentum going into the next couple of games. It’s huge because they are a great team.”

Anderson connected on 8 of 10 foul shots in the game, including 5 of 6 in the fourth quarter, “Last game we went 10 for 20 so we knew we had to step up and just focused on things and following through. Doing what I can,” Anderson remarked.

“We came into this game with a lot of confidence and excited for the opportunity to play a good team, a good program, and a good coach,” Devils Pat Daltorio said. “When we got to halftime and looked at the score and we were only down by four after not scoring like that, it’s a win.”

Despite the Devils only scoring 1-point in the second quarter of the contest, they only trailed by 4 at intermission with the score 22-18. After tieing the contest at 23 the Raiders received a huge break in the contest when the Devils Jack Cappianaca committed a foul and then received a technical foul when he protested the call. That took him out of the game at the 4:49 mark of the period and gave the Raiders a chance to go on a 12-6 run to grab a 10-point, 39-29 lead early in the fourth frame.

“It did change the momentum,” Cullen admitted about the technical foul charge. “He (Cappabianca) does a lot of things for them. All those rebounds we got at the end. If he’s in there, that might not happen.”

“Those little things can come back to bite you,” Daltorio said. “And when he went down it was a really fight or flight type of opportunity for us. Are you going to step up to the plate or hang our heads? This senior-driven team stepped up to the plate. But you know they finished the game and we didn’t make free throws and didn’t rebound when we needed to, and against a good team, you can’t expect to win down the stretch like that.”

The Raiders received a boost off the bench when senior guard Brandon Youngs came into the game for the first time this season. Youngs’ fractured his fibula in a soccer game this past fall. He would see a couple minutes of action and hit a key three-pointer from the top of the key at the 2:07 mark of the third quarter.

“He’s got a rod in his leg. That’s the first time he played. We didn’t know if he was going to be able to, but he moved around pretty good I think,” Cullen said. “Not many people come back that quick. He made two big shots. When you know you’re not going to get very many minutes you have to get your money’s worth.”

Anderson, along with Mike Cunningham each tallied 12 points to lead the Raiders on the night. Cunningham also led the Raiders on the boards with 8 caroms. Chris Brooks would grab 6 rebounds.

The Devils were led by Nic Corbett coming off the bench to score 11 points. No other Devil player would reach double digits, but they would put 7 in the scoring column. Kade Hillis would lead them in rebounds with 7.

The Raiders have no time to rest as they will be back in action Saturday night when they travel to face an undefeated Mogadore team. The Blue Devils will also face Mogadore in their next game, but it will be next Friday on the Devils’ home court.


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