SPRINGFIELD – Natalie Prestegaard has spent a lot of time in the gym working on her shot.
It showed Thursday.
The Ravenwood High School sophomore sank five 3-pointers and scored a game-best 21 points as the Lady Raptors debuted a new campaign with a 69-49 win in Robertson County.
“Honestly, shots just fell tonight,” said Prestegaard, adding how she’s developed more confidence to shoot the long ball. “It felt great, but this team is amazing. I think we can go really far if we keep working.”
Senior Reghan Grimes added 16 points, post Catalina Garay tacked on 11 and Elizabeth Flynn had nine for Ravenwood, which displayed some of its newfound offensive firepower in the season opener. The Lady Raptors scored 69 or more just twice last season.
“I really think we can be really explosive offensively,” Ravenwood coach Andrew James said. “It’s good to get a win in the first game, but we have a lot of things we need to work on as well. We’re still learning, but I really like this group.”
After leading by as many as 23 early in the fourth quarter, Springfield produced a 13-5 run capped by a Kielee Bradley 3-pointer – her fourth of the game – to pull within 59-45 with 3:49 to play.
Prestegaard responded with a triple of her own and swiped a pass near midcourt for a quick layup to stretch the margin once again where it stuck to the final buzzer.
Five Lady Yellow Jackets scored at least seven, led by Bradley’s dozen.
Ravenwood, which produced a 13-10 record last year, plays twice more on the road before their home opener on Nov. 30 against Hillsboro. Both Ravenwood teams play this weekend at Christ Presbyterian Academy’s NXT LVL tournament.
“We have lots of young girls who will be playing big time varsity minutes for us,” James said. “Again, we are still learning, but we’ll be ready for Saturday.”
The Ravenwood boys, who were missing 6-foot-6 senior Jake Mulder and several players competing in the football playoffs, overcame a jittery start to cruise in the later game Thursday.
Senior DJ Starr dropped in 19 points, including three 3-pointers, in his Raptor debut after moving to the area from central Illinois. Ravenwood added plenty of balance offensively with Evan Gainer adding 13 points, Matt Williams 11 and Andrew Lamuno 10.
The two teams both displayed first-game nerves combining for only nine first-quarter points and more jump balls than buckets.
“We looked a little nervous to start, but we settled in … but honestly, we only played about four good minutes of basketball,” veteran Ravenwood coach Patrick Whitlock said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Starr helped jumpstart the offense with a 3-pointer from the wing and a quick steal and dish to a streaking Gainer for a 14-8 lead midway through the second quarter. Ravenwood built a 26-16 lead at the half.
Whitlock said his team ratcheted up the defensive pressure to open the second half and that triggered the transition game with the Raptors full court pressure forcing eight turnovers in the third quarter alone.
A Gainer triple pushed Ravenwood in front 39-18 three minutes into the frame for a quick 13-2 run to start the half. The advantage stayed at about 20 points into the fourth until Springfield managed several late buckets to narrow the final margin.
Whitlock said he wants his team to improve its execution and be more physical rebounding.
“We just want to try and get a little better everyday,” he said. “I really like this team. We’ll get better.”
Malik Harrell scored 18 and Keimarian Flair tallied 17 to lead the Yellow Jackets.
Ravenwood girls 69, Springfield 49
RHS 19 13 20 17 – 69
SHS 8 13 12 16 – 49
RHS (69) – Lexie Lavigne 1, Katelyn Johnson 6, Elizabeth Flynn 9, Natalie Prestegaard 21, Emme Rayl 3, Alixis Parson 2, Reghan Grimes 16, Catalina Garay 11.
SHS (49) – Sarah Tejeda 2, Shamarri Cantrell 8, Kielee Bradley 12, Taniya Partee 8, Rayne Erickson 8, Aaliyah Scharkley 7, Olivia Merritt 4.
3-pointers – RHS 7 (Prestegaard 5, Rayl, Grimes); SHS 6 (Bradley 4, Cantrell 2). Total Fouls – RHS 17; SHS 12. Fouled Out – None.
Ravenwood boys 65, Springfield 54
RHS 4 22 23 16 – 65
SHS 5 11 13 25 – 54
RHS (65) – Matt Williams 11, Cameron Pack 3, Evan Gainer 13, Andrew Lamuno 10, Trey Hallett 3, DJ Starr 19, Will Brent 3, Brett Shelby 2, Myles Hallett 1.
SHS (54) – Dquintonio Petties 2, Malik Harrell 18, John Jakaway 5, Keimarian Flair 17, Que’shon Cromwell 5, Seon Dowlen 3, Alarric Hudson 4.
3-pointers – RHS 7 (Starr 3, Williams 2, Pack, Gainer); SHS 5 (Harrell 2, Jakaway, Cromwell, Dowlen). Total Fouls – RHS 24; SHS 14. Fouled Out – None. Technical Foul – Hudson.