Ravenna’s nine boys basketball seniors are:
(Front row) Daveon Gregory and Bryce Moneypenny.
(Back row) Maykay O’Neal, Pavel Henderson, Thurman Treadwell, Marcus Gibson, Mason Ross, Emmanuel Miller, Justice Haven.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports
By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The historic championship for the Ravenna High School boys basketball program is a classic example of the iceberg illusion.
Everyone sees the championship today, but it is everything they did not see over a four-year period that made the celebration possible.
A postgame celebration, complete with emotional tears and jubilant smiles that was 44 years in the making.
They were everywhere you looked on that Friday night inside James L. Coll Gymnasium.
February, 10, 2023.
A special night created by a special class of seniors.
A senior class that spent years playing together.
Most of time hearing about how they were not good enough to win a championship.
“We had the best record in the league as freshmen, but all we heard about was that it didn’t really matter because it was just the freshman season,” Ravenna senior point guard Daveon Gregory said. “First of all, I can tell you that it meant something to us. Second, right then, we made up our minds that we were going to work as hard as anyone had ever worked to try to win a championship at the varsity level.”
Along the way, there were tough losses to learn from, special wins that gave glimpses that the team was on the right path, but in those were all public outcomes.
It comes back to the iceberg illusion where the Ravens really become champions.
Summer days under the heat of the sun, training and playing at City Park on Oakwood Street.
Team practices that were filled with accountability and tough love.
Locker room discussions themed around self sacrifice, love and building a team culture.
All behind the scenes.
All beneath the surface.
This is the story of Ravenna’s nine seniors and how they became champions — as told by head coach Marlon Jones and the players themselves.
Photo Gallery: Ravenna boys basketball’s seniors through the years
- Mason does a bit of everything on the court for us. His high IQ allows us to play him at the one through the five. Nightly, there is not a stat box that he doesn’t check.
- Mason is never rattled and as poised of a player that us coaches have seen. As a captain, his demeanor and play is the calm to our storm.
- Our favorite memory of Mason was his call up to varsity vs. Field. As a sophomore, Mason helped in a big way to take home a win against the Falcons. Ever since that game, Mason elevated as a player.
- Over the summer, Mason made it a priority to get in the gym and it has shown through his ability to finish through contact and at the rim.
- Mason Ross on being a champion: “It felt amazing. It has been a dream of for us since our freshman season. We wanted it so bad for ourselves, but we also knew that it meant so much for the coaches and the city and to do it with this group really meant the world to me.”
- Pavel is our engine. His infectious energy gets us going and keeps us going.
- In our eyes, and I’m sure a lot of others, Pavel is the best defender in the Metro Athletic Conference. His long wingspan and athleticism allows us to play our style of basketball, which is fast and in transition.
- Our favorite memory of Pavel is watching him play defense on the other team’s best player all year long this season.
- Over the years, Pavel has grown mentally. We’ve always preached to him to ‘play with emotions, but not emotional.’ He finally figured it out and has been a great leader for our team.
- Pavel Henderson on being a champion: “Wow, what a good feeling. I just love that our team plays with chemistry, and we buy into the roles that coaches give us to play together as a team. We felt like we worked for it, and we put Ravenna on the map, but we don’t feel like we are done yet.”
- Daveon is one of most patient players. When he runs the offense, it’s effective and smooth.
- He has great vision and sets his teammates up for great and easy shots. He also is a knockdown shooter.
- Daveon is probably one of the funniest kids on the team. Anytime you are around him, it is constant laughs. Our team dinner after our game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhous is easily a great memory.
- Over the years, Daveon has grown as a player. Before the season, he was one of the kids at all the open gyms and tryouts that stood out. The progress and development of this kid has shown in his skill-set.
- Daveon Gregory on being a champion: “It made the season feel like it really mattered. It was a feeling of relief and excitement. We proved to ourselves that we could do it and do something that probably a lot of people thought we couldn’t get it done. A lot of people probably recognized that we were a good team, but also probably thought that we would not get it done when it mattered. We did, and I feel like we are the best team to ever play at Ravenna.”
- Any time Marcus shoots the ball, we all think it’s going in. It doesn’t matter if he missed 99 shots that night, we would bet the house that that 100th shot is hitting the bottom of the net.
- Not only is he our best shooter, Marcus is one of our smartest players. He isn’t the strongest, he isn’t the fastest, but his IQ puts him in places to make the right play offensively and defensively.
- We were down with seconds left in the second quarter at Streetsboro. We subbed Marcus in, and he had not got much time that game, for a SLOB (sideline out of bounds) play. Marcus came through an elevator screen and cashed a 3. We never trailed after that.
- Marcus has grown more confident throughout his time as a player. He knows that we need him to shoot, and he does just that.
- Marcus Gibson on being a champion: “All of our hard work paid off, and we are able to put our year up on the banner. I could not be more proud of my teammates, coaches, school and community.”
The Ravenna boys basketball team won the 2022-23 Metro Athletic Conference championship without a single player averaging more than 12 points per game. For the entire season, they were nine seniors playing as one without worrying about who would get the credit.
Tom Nader/Portage Sports
- One of our anchors on the team, ‘E-Man’ provides security for the back line of the defense. His ability to jump out of the gym and rebound allows us to hold teams to one shot or secure offensive boards.
- E-Man is a strong individual. He’s a man down in the paint and gets easy putbacks, but also has the ability to get the ball down low for tough finishes.
- Our favorite memory was E-Man’s junior season when he rose above the rim for a high-flying dunk at Field.
- E-Man has grown tremendously as a player, phsysically and mentally. Going into this season, we knew that he was going to be key towards a title run.
- Emmanuel Miller on being a champion: “This is something that was years in the making. We are a group that has stayed close, worked hard and to do this with my group of friends is surreal. We actually get to put our year up on the banner and that is surreal. I am so proud of my teammates.”
- Speed, defensive and a high motor. Bryce brings it nightly. Next to Pavel, he’s one of the MAC’s best defenders.
- Bryce is shifty and hard to stay in front of. His first step loses defenders and makes it easy for him to blow by a lot of players.
- Our favorite memory was the summer entering his sophomore season. Bryce transferred in and none of the coaches knew who he was. Bryce walked into the gym and told us he was a transfer from Rootstown. We asked, ‘Why did you come here?’ Bryce said, ‘Because you guys are a good basketball school.’ Little did we know, Bryce was correct. He saw it before we knew it.
- Bryce has grown more confident and stronger as a player. He loves to win and doesn’t care what he has to do to win.
- Bryce Moneypenny on being a champion: “It took about 10 minutes after the game (win over Woodridge on Feb. 10 to clinch the title) for me to really process the excitement of the win. We entered the season knowing we had worked so hard to give ourselves a chance, and we felt like we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. It had been 44 years since a championship and now we can say we really did this.”
- Haven for THREEEEE. Justice comes up big in clutch moments. Whether it is hitting a big shot or grabbing a huge board. He’s showed up timely for us this season.
- Justice loves basketball and just wants to play. If he could play the whole game, he would. He’s a hooper.
- Our favorite memory is actually probably the turning point in his career. Justice came to the coaches and asked to play JV last year to develop more confidence as a player.
- Justice’s most improved area has been his confidence. This kid thinks he can do anything on the court, and we love it.
- Justice Haven on being a champion: “I felt a lot of emotions, to be honest. All the summer days and hard work up at the park every single day. It was so gratifying. I was excited and happy, but not just for me, for my entire team. This is my basketball family so to win the championship with my brothers was very emotional for me.”
- Thurman is tall, you can see that from the minute he hits the floor. He strives as an anchor on our defense by altering shots and causing players to hesitate in the paint.
- Thurman is quick for a big. His ability to run the floor and guard on the perimeter allows him to be utilized in many ways.
- His contributions in the Kent Roosevelt game was one of the reasons we came out victorious. He was everywhere on the court and a man amongst boys that night.
- Thurman impressed during tryouts. His skill-set has improved, and he’s developed into a very good ballplayer.
- Thurman Treadwell on being a champion: “It is a great feeling when you know you put in the hard work and the results follow. This year turned out how we planned it all along, but we needed the hard work to make it happen. I am so grateful for my teammates and my coaches for always having my back and supporting me. We all had a goal in mind, and we made it happen.”
- Buckets! Kai is instant offense. Only thing we ask of him is to score. He’s the first person off the bench and usually the shift turns our way when we put him in.
- Kai’s ability to score at all three levels of the court makes him dangerous. He can knock down shots, pull up or take you off the dribble.
- Seeing him take a critical charge against Norton in the lat two minutes of this year’s game is one of our favorite memories.
- Kai has grown and accepted his role. Any kid would love to start every game, but Kai access coming off the bench and thrives. His ability to buy in has contributed to our successful season.
- Maykai O’Neal on being a champion: “It starts with the coaches pushing us to be the best we can be, and I appreciate them so much for that. They pushed it to be great and set the tone for the team we became. They made us give 100 percent in practice all the time so that we could give 120% in games. To win it all, it just makes me so proud of this team.”