The Rocky River Ravens defeated West Mecklenburg in a non-conference home opener at the Ravens Nest. As usual, the crowd at “The Nest” was loud and supported their team throughout the basketball game.
New Head Coach Michael Malpass has his team playing solid defense, team basketball and the players seem to be enjoying the experience. With the win over the Hawks the team is now 2-1 on the season. However, they have yet to play a conference game in what is considered to be one of the toughest in the state with solid teams from Myers Park, Butler, Independence, Porter Ridge, Hickory Ridge, and East Mecklenburg.
However, they are off to a good start with their only loss coming in a road game against Olympic 57-51. We have a long season ahead, and believe the Ravens will compete with team captain Nick Burns averaging 18.5 points per game who can drill the 3-point shot. Also, junior Calik “Duke” Thomas a co-captain averaging 18.75 points per game in the three games played this season with solid rebounding. The big men, 6-8 Kaishon Royster and Aaron Hall will make solid contributions off the boards and clogging up the middle against their opponents when they are in the game. Also, junior guards Stephon Richards and Christian Rudisell both show promise which will make this team a challenge for some in the Southwestern 4AA Conference.
In the first half, the Ravens controlled the tempo early in the first period making a 9-0 run before West Mecklenburg finally scored on a 3-point basket outscoring the Hawks 15-12. However, the Hawks came storming back late in the period connecting on two additional 3-pointers to close the gap.
In the second period, the two teams dueled by exchanging baskets in a fast paced transition basketball game. The Hawks outscored the Ravens 16-12, and again finished in a flurry hitting some key 3-point shots.
The Ravens took the lead on 3-point shot by Nick Burnes to put the home team ahead 27-25 with under 5 seconds remaining, however, Hawks guard Samuel Walton would take the inbound pass and shoot a full court shot that swished through the hoop to excite the visiting Hawk fans and teammates giving the visitors a 28-27 lead at the intermission.
After making some nice adjustments, the Ravens came out in the second half to dominate the third period to take full control of the final outcome of this game. They outscored the Hawks 32 to 14 mainly on 3-point shots, solid defense, good shooting from the free throw line, and stepping up an already fast paced tempo an extra notch, the Hawks seemed to have no counter to slow down the Ravens domination of the period. The Ravens entered the final period with a comfortable 59-42 lead.
In the fourth period, the teams exchanged buckets with the Hawks outscoring the Ravens 17-16, however, the visitors could not mount a comeback against a solid performance by the Ravens who owned the night and home court advantage.
The leading scorers for the Ravens were Nick Burns and Calik “Duke” Thomas with both captains scoring 20 points. Juniors Stephon Richards contributed 12 points, while fellow guard Christian Rudisell added 10 points. The two big men sophomore Hall had 6 rebounds, and Royster added 2 for a combined 8 rebounds and 2 points. The Ravens will need more production from their two giants when they face conference teams.