By Greg Gulas
The South Range Raiders have one of the more prolific offenses in the area, averaging 75.8 points per outing heading into Friday’s game with Western Reserve.
The Blue Devils, on the other hand, got off to a late start this season due to the success of their football squad in the fall.
Playing their fourth game in seven days, Western Reserve did something defensively that no other team has been able to do thus far to South Range and that was to hold them under 50 points.
The Raiders made sure, however, that a down night offensively didn’t affect them as Dan Good, Jordan Baker and Brandon Pluchinsky each scored in double figures, pacing South Range to a 48-24 victory over the Blue Devils.
Good and Baker each scored 11 points while Pluchinsky added 10 as the Raiders (5-1) placed at least three players in double figures for the sixth consecutive time this season.
“Our players know going into certain games that you are going to have to take what other teams give you and that was exactly the case tonight,” said South Range coach Dave Purins.
“We didn’t want to be impatient offensively and defensively, wanted to limit their shot selection. We played defense probably 12 of the first 16 minutes and didn’t have [very] good shot selection.
“However, we did much better at the offensive end of the court in the second half,” Purins added. “Our players are a well-conditioned group and a strong second half team and that is what helped us after intermission.”
Andy Lacefield scored five of his seven first half points in the opening period as the Raiders built a 10-4 advantage.
South Range then proceeded to outscore the Blue Devils, 5-4 in the second stanza as they opened a 15-8 lead at the intermission and never looked back.
It was the second game in a row in which the Raiders held their opponent to just eight first half points, holding United to that total in a 70-41 victory.
Purins’ halftime talk seemed to connect as Pluchinsky, Good and Baker each scored five points after the intermission to help the Raiders increase their lead to 30-15.
“They [Western Reserve] wanted to slow us down and make us play defense, all the while hoping that we would rush our shots,” said Baker.
“After halftime we did a much better job of attacking the bucket, knowing full well that this was going to be a challenge right to the end at both ends of the court.”
With six players getting into the act offensively in the final quarter, the Raiders outscored the Blue Devils (3-1) in the final eight minutes, 18-9 to seal their 24-point victory.
“We told our guys prior to the game that if we could keep the game in the low 50s then we’d have a chance of sticking around,” said Western Reserve coach Tim King.
“Unfortunately, we’re still trying to figure ourselves out offensively and until we can find another scorer to go along with Tommy Benyo, then we’re going to struggle at that end of the court.
“South Range is an excellent team, but even in a loss the positives that we are going to take away from this game include an excellent defensive game and how we hit the boards.
“Come January, we should look like a basketball team and not just a team with basketball and football players,” King said.
The Raiders made 18 of 40 field goal attempts and were 8 of 10 from the free throw line.
Western Reserve was 10 of 37 from the field and just 3 of 7 from the charity stripe.
South Range held a 24-23 rebound advantage as the Blue Devils’ Dalton Korda hauled in a game-high seven caroms.
Baker added a team-high six rebounds for the Raiders.