By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
I have been fortunate to cover a lot of games that have championships on the line.
It is exciting and the atmosphere is always heightened.
The crowds are larger and arrive earlier.
The student sections are engaged and invested.
The cheerleaders and pep bands are louder and more spirited than they are already.
In basketball, it is the dream environment because of all of that activity, in addition to the game action, are all confined to an indoor space.
The sound has nowhere to go and it layers on top of each other to create the magic of high school sports.
On Friday, it was magical in Ravenna.
The Ravens’ boys basketball team completed the school’s first league championship since 1978-79 — and just the second in school history.
Head coach Marlon Jones is in his fourth season as the head coach after beginning on the team’s staff back in 2009 as a volunteer assistant under then-head coach Phil Starks.
I was in Ravenna for Jones’ first game as head coach.
It was Dec. 6, 2019, and the Ravens hosted the Coventry Comets, who raced away to a 70-47 victory over Ravenna and Jones.
In the postgame interview, I remember sensing Jones’ passion for the job he had been trusted with.
Even after a tough lost, in the first game of his head-coaching career, his words were not hollow. They were filled conviction and care.
Neither of us could have predicted that four seasons later, his Ravens would find a coveted spot on a bare championship banner inside James L. Coll Gymnasium.
I, for one, though, am not surprised.
Tireless work and endless love put the Ravens in position to make history on Feb. 10, 2023. From Jones and his entire staff, including Devante McKinney, Jordan Jones, Corey Gibson and Michael Boltz.
I never got the sense that the Ravens felt the weight of the program’s title drought, but rather they simply wanted it so badly and with so much passion that they were committed to willing it into existence.
Nothing, seemingly, was going to deter them.
I was fortunate to be there to see it.
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