South Range comeback bid falls short to Central Catholic in district semifinal

Raiders lose to Central Catholic in semi-finals for second straight year

Central Catholic and South Range Boys High School Basketball
Central Catholic and South Range Boys High School Basketball

SALEM, OHIO (WKBN) – The top-seeded South Range Raiders suffered the same fate as they had last year with a 46-42 loss at the Salem Division 3 district semi-finals.

Once again, it was the fourth-seeded Canton Central Catholic Crusaders who knocked off the Raiders. Ironically, the two teams carried the same seedings into last year’s encounter.

But it wasn’t without a last-minute fight by the Raiders after falling behind by 12-points late in the contest.

Raiders senior guard Brandon Youngs knocked down two three’s while Jaxson Anderson converted a rebound into a putback basket in the final minute of the game as the Raiders pulled to within four at 46-42. Unfortunately, they were unable to convert a few shots in the final seconds of the game to get any closer.

“One thing people find out about themselves, you always got more to give than you think you have to give. You just have to dig in enough to get that. These guys did,” Raiders Coach John Cullen said. “If you give yourself a chance to win against a nine-senior led team like that, you’re a pretty special team. Sometimes you don’t win championships to become a champion.”

“They played their tail off,” Crusaders head coach Matt Creamer said of South Range. “I knew that was going to happen. We didn’t command the ball there. We were loose with the ball a couple of times.”

Youngs said he just tried to give his team a chance to win in the final moments of the game.

“They needed a spark, and I was willing to give it. I gave it, and I gave our team a chance to win. Everybody put their hearts out there on the floor.”

The Crusaders shot the ball at a 78 percent clip in the first half as they grabbed a 19-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. They then stretched their advantage to 12 points at 24-12 midway through the second frame.

To the Raiders credit, they fought back, going on a 7-2 run to close the period trailing 26-19 at the intermission.

“We gave them open shots in the first half,” Cullen remarked. “They shoot it better here than they do anywhere else. They never shot that ball like that all year.”

“I liked our patience tonight on offense. I liked the way we sat down and played defense. That’s what we do. We’re not real fancy,” Creamer explained. “I think one of our best thing’s is that we play good team defense, and we share the ball. Guys hit timely shots and that’s what we do.”

The Crusaders continued to lead the Raiders throughout the third quarter as they held a 5-point, 33-28 lead at the end of the frame.

The Crusaders looked to put the Raiders away early in the fourth as they began the period with a 7-0 run, holding a 40-30 lead with 6:15 remaining in the contest. When the Crusaders Brian Shepard hit a basket and free throw, they built an 11-point, 45-34 lead. The Crusaders Cortez Simmons added a free throw second later to make it a 12-point advantage before the Raiders come-back attempt.

Shepard would lead the Crusaders with 11 points on the night while Will Jackson added 10. Shepard would also lead his team in rebounds with 4.

The Raiders were carried by Youngs with 12 points on the night, while Anders netted 10. Anderson would grab 5 rebounds to lead the Raiders on the boards.

Central Catholic, who improve to 15-9 on the season, will play the winner of the Mogadore-Campbell game. The district championship will be at Salem High Schoolat 7 p.m. Friday.


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