Raptors survive scare, advance in 11-AAA tournament
By Marcus Stone, Sports Editor
It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t have to be as Ravenwood’s boys basketball team defeated Centennial 62-55 in the opening round of the District 11-AAA tournament Tuesday night. The win guarantees the No. 3 seed Raptors a spot in the Region 6-AAA tournament while No. 6 seed Centennial ends their season.
“It’s totally irrelevant what the final score was,” said Ravenwood coach Patrick Whitlock. “Centennial is the best 0-11 district team in the state of Tennessee. This game terrified me and I’m extremely excited that we won and we’re going to play in the region tournament.”
What looked to be a Ravenwood runaway turned into a hotly contested ending as the Cougars erased a double-digit deficit to a single basket in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.
Raptor turnovers and fouls opened the door for a Cougar comeback as Centennial brought the score to 53-50 on a Howard Dixon basket – closing an 8-2 run.
The Cougars also got in foul trouble late though as Ravenwood made seven-of-eight free throws with less than two minutes left to seal the win.
“We didn’t shoot as well as I wanted and we’re going to have to shoot better to beat teams down the stretch,” Whitlock said. “That’s the way it is. We’ll work on that (in practice).”
Ravenwood made 16-of-25 free throws in the game.
The final quarter gave both teams plenty of chances from the charity stripe as Ravenwood and Centennial combined to shoot 38 free throws in the final eight minutes.
Ravenwood never trailed on the night, opening on an 8-0 run before Centennial got on the scoreboard. The Raptors would widen their advantage to as large as 27-13 late in the second quarter before the Cougars went on a 15-5 streak through the first six minutes of the third quarter.
Whitlock credits an element of surprise to the Raptors' big lead in the first half as they played Centennial’s Matt Pond in a box-and-one – taking the visitors out of rhythm.
Centennial adjusted in the second half, allowing Pond to bring the ball up court rather than fight for positioning in the post like he did in the first 16 minutes.
The Cougars got contribution from several players who Ravenwood had not seen on tape as Kevin Prince hit three 3-pointers in the second half.
“Credit to those kids who stepped in,” Whitlock said. “They made plays to make it interesting.”
Pond, 11-AAA’s leading scorer through the regular season, led Centennial with 14 points – all coming in the second half.
Jonathan Coles led Ravenwood with 20 points while Joey Barnes added 17.
Ravenwood now advances to play No. 2 seed Independence in the District 11-AAA tournament Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Hillsboro High School.
Posted on: 2/12/2013