By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Offensive consistency has been a struggle this season for the Southeast boys basketball team.
There have been moments of scoring bursts, but there have also been moments of scoreless droughts.
Head coach Matt Dillon knows that is a sign of his team’s youth.
While he waits for his Pirates to find their offensive stability, the veteran coach knows that his team can always fall back on its defense.
On Friday, it was Southeast’s defense that turned the momentum of the game.
After Ravenna built a 7-2 lead at the 4:37 mark of the first quarter, the Ravens did not score again for more than 8 minutes (4:10 left in the second quarter).
In that time, the Pirates found one of the scoring bursts.
Southeast closed the first quarter on an 8-0 run that continued to grow through the start of the second quarter and allowed the Pirates to gain a 28-13 lead by halftime on their way to a 64-51 victory over the visiting Ravens in a non-league matchup.
“Holding Ravenna to 13 points in the first half was a tremendous effort by our kids. We thought they played very well defensively,” Dillon said. “I thought we rebounded well, too, which led to scoring opportunities to get us out in transition.”
Ravenna shot just 6-of-32 (19 percent) in the first half, including misses on all nine of its 3-point attempts. Compounding things, the Ravens (3-6) turned the ball over 10 times over the game’s first 16 minutes.
It overshadowed Ravenna’s improved second half, when they shot 14-of-25 (56 percent) as they tried everything they could to pull back into the game.
Southeast (4-2) continually had the answer, though.
In most cases, that answer was Garrett Sprutte.
The senior finished with 35 points, connecting on 10-of-24 from the field — after missing his first five attempts to start the game — and 15-of-17 from the free-throw line. He also had a game-high 11 rebounds and five steals.
All of Sprutte’s field goals came in the paint, as he consistently worked his way to the rim, where he would finish off the glass with either hand.
Freshman Cohen Richardson also reached double-digits for the Pirates. He finished with 15 points, and he also had a game-high four assists.
Richardson, along with Zach Keto, helped keep Southeast’s offense calm by protecting the ball, with the duo combining for zero turnovers.
“We were real pleased with how Cohen and Zach played tonight. They were tremendous,” said Dillon, whose team was playing for the first time in 10 days. “To handle the ball as much as they do and for us to be able to trust them in those roles is a huge thing for our team. Now, both are starting to score a little bit for us, too, which is great.”
Ravenna began the third quarter with a noticeable urgency on offense, but for every big shot they hit, including 3-pointers by Bryant Thompson and Dylan Carrozzi, the Pirates would find points to offset any potential rally by the Ravens.
Thompson’s 3 came with 2:24 left in the third quarter and pulled Ravenna to 37-26 of the Pirates.
Southeast was just 3-of-15 shooting in the third quarter, but they wore out a path to the free-throw line and connected on 10-of-11 from the charity stripe to keep the Ravens from getting any closer.
For the game, the sharpshooting Pirates were 20-of-23 from the line.
Ravenna was led in scoring by Curtis Ross, who had 13 points, along with nine rebounds. Carrozzi hit for 10 points, while Nigil Williams added eight points and seven rebounds and Dean Baker pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
Ravenna’s JV squad pumped in some quick points in the closing minutes of the game, pulling the Ravens to within 11 at one point, which forced Southeast to put its first string back in the game with 1:28 to play.