South Range defense locks down Ursuline

Raiders’ defense controls

tempo against Irish

By BOB ETTINGER

sports@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The South Range defense had but one goal Friday night. The Raiders figured if they could shut down Ursuline’s Devan Keevey, they could shut down the Fighting Irish offense.

The math worked out well for South Range in a 61-36 victory on Lyden Family Court.

“We were trying to shut down [Keevey],” South Range’s Mike Cunningham said. “We knew he drives to his left a lot. He’s a great player. We were trying to stop that spin. The whole gameplan was to shut him down and it worked well tonight.”

The Raiders (5-0) used what appeared to be a maroon wall inside the 3-point arc to keep the Fighting Irish away from the lane.

“We were trying to keep them out of the paint,” South Range coach John Cullen said.

“We didn’t do a great job of it, but when we did, it worked well. We started to press the ball a little bit and make them play faster. You have to make teams play in different ways than they’re used to. Brennan Toy started to bother their ballhandlers. They were bothering ours before that.”

Ursuline (0-2) was just 15 of 43 from the field, 4 of 18 from beyond the arc and turned the ball over 19 times.

“The reality of coaching is you’ve got 22 scrimmages to get ready for the tournament,” Ursuline coach Keith Gunther said.

“We had one guy who averaged about seven minutes last year. I have to be smart enough as a coach to know I’ve got to get them experience. We struggle to defend. We struggle to score and we struggle with basketball IQ. Five or 10 years ago, I’d have been in there ready to blow my top.

“It’s my job to get them experience over these 22 games. If we win the district in March, is anybody going to remember we lost the first two games?”

The Fighting Irish scored the first six points on triples from DeShawn Harris and Ethan Courtney, but surrendered the next 15 points over six minutes.

“Our ball movement got started,” Cunningham said. “It was dead at the beginning. Once we started moving the ball, we started getting layups, then our shots started to fall. It was very easy [to keep the momentum once we had it]. We’re a get-hot, stay-hot team. Once we get the ball rolling, we keep it rolling.”

South Range held that nine-point advantage at the break, 29-20, and pushed it to 14, 34-20, after Cunningham scored the first five points of the third period. The Raiders were up 42-29 to start the fourth.

Over just more than four minutes in the final period, the Raiders scored 13 straight points to push the lead to 57-30 with 2:43 remaining.

“We were playing against a really, really good basketball team and one of the coaches who I think is one of the best in the area,” Gunther said. “They played smart, they were tough and they played hard.”

Cunningham paced a trio of Raiders in double figured with 19 points. Ben Irons had 15 and Anderson 11.

Vince Armeni led the Fighting Irish with eight points and Keevey finished with seven.

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