By Andrew Johnson
The game was tied 46-46 with 5:16 left in the fourth quarter when Ravenna senior Trevor Sterken hit back-to-back three pointers, giving the Bulldogs a six-point lead that held up the rest of the way.
“I was just feeling it,” Sterken said. “I wanted to help the team win. I trust all my teammates and they trust me too. I’m going to take those shots whenever I need to.”
“He’s one of those guys,” said Ravenna head coach Courtney Kemp about Sterken. “He’s the Chauncey Billups of the Western Michigan Conference. He’s a big shot taker and he’s not afraid of the moment. Seems like the bigger the moment, the easier it is for him to shoot.”
With the victory, Ravenna improved to 5-0 in Western Michigan Conference play and grabbed sole possession of first place, while Oakridge dropped to second with a 4-1 record.
Oakridge cut the deficit to 56-53 with a three pointer from senior Tanner Karel with 1:48 remaining, but that was as close as the Eagles got.
Over the final 38 seconds, Ravenna went four-for-five from the free throw line to seal the victory.
“To date that’s our biggest win,” Kemp said. “We don’t want to down-sell how big of a game it was. We thought the winner of the game would be in the driver seat of the conference. It sets us up nicely going forward, but there’s still plenty of basketball left to be played, and we’ll see them again.”
Both offenses started the game strong with Ravenna holding a 19-14 lead after one quarter. Jacob May led Ravenna with 10 points over the opening eight minutes while Oakridge was paced by Karel and Luke Martin with six apiece.
At halftime, Ravenna held a 32-27 lead behind 14 first-half points from May. Senior Tyler Carlson had two clutch three pointers in the second quarter to keep Oakridge within striking distance.
In the third quarter, Oakridge cut into the deficit, trailing by just two, 46-44, at the third buzzer.
Ravenna outscored Oakridge 16-12 in the fourth quarter to seal the win and take the conference lead.
Calvin Schullo had 18 points to lead the Bulldogs while May finished with 16 and Sterken added 13.
Oakridge was led by Karel with 21 points and Martin with 10 points.
“It was a fun night,” said Oakridge head coach Tracy Ruel. “The guys played well, and it was an electric crowd. We’re proud of our guys and we love them. They gave everything they had.”
Oakridge, now 6-4 overall on the season, will host Whitehall on Tuesday while Ravenna (8-0) will host Mason County Central.