SCOTTVILLE — Head coach Tim Genson was home suffering from the flu, watching the game on his computer Friday night, but still felt the excitement just as much as his players when the Mason County Central boys basketball team spine tingling 40-39 upset of Ravenna in the West Michigan Conference.
What had to please Genson even more was how well the Spartans’ played on defense, against a team that has been battling for the top spot in the conference since the beginning of the season, and is battling Whitehall for first place as the regular season winds down.
Ravenna seemed to be on the verge of notching its 10th win in the conference when the Bulldogs mounted a 15-point lead on the Spartans in the third quarter.
But the Spartans were undaunted, and came charging back at the Bulldogs, eventually shaving the deficit to two points at the onset of the fourth quarter.
And it was the Spartans’ defense that made the rally possible, as they shut the Bulldogs’ offense down. Ravenna went scoreless for a 6:37 stretch in the third period. The Bulldogs didn’t make a field goal in the last 7:26 of the third.
In fact, the Bulldogs didn’t so much as sink a free throw until there was only 3:34 left in the final period, when Drew Mabrito drained two free throw shots.
“We played them tough down there at their place,” Spartans’ assistant coach Pat Chye said. “It was a two-point game down there. We both had guys missing.
“I think the biggest thing for us was rebounding. We went to a zone in the second half, and that was a huge change. We were much better rebounding out of a 2-3 zone, and getting second chance opportunities.”
Others stepped up and filled admirably for the missing players, and helped lead the comeback.
The Spartans trailed 30-15 and then went on a 13-0 tear to get the deficit down to two points, 30-28 on an open 3-point basket knocked down by Zach Draper and they eventually took a lead they would hold until the final horn.
“We actually match up pretty well with them,” continued Chye. “The nice thing with all this, even with Tim not being there, I’ve worked with Tim and learned a lot from him the last couple of years, and fortunately with this group of juniors, I’ve coached them since they were in some travel ball in junior high. We are familiar with each other.
“It was a familiar voice for all of them. The thing with this group … they never give up. We’re not reaping the rewards of how hard we work as a group collectively. Our record doesn’t indicate what we’re capable of.”
Mason County played from behind from the start, falling into an 11-6 hole at the end of the first quarter. Ravenna also outscored the Spartans, 15-9 in the second period and settled into a 26-15 lead at the half.
But the Spartans turned the game around in the second half, notching a 13-4 advantage in the third quarter and cut the deficit to 30-28 going into the final period. The Spartans then edged the Bulldogs, 12-9 in the last eight minutes.
The Spartans’ top scorers in the game were Jaden Perrone with 13 points and Will Chye with 12. Mason County Central drained 15 of 29 free throw attempts.
Perrone pulled down 10 rebounds, while Chye, Kolden Myer and Tyler Thurow each had six caroms. Chye and Thurow each had two assists. Landon Smith and Myer each had a blocked shot.
Grant Becklin paced the Bulldogs with 17 points and one 3-pointer, but he had only two in the second half. Kyle Beebe contributed 12 with two 3-point buckets, but was held to just three in the last 16 minutes. Carl Schullo added six points. Ravenna shot 5 of 16 at the charity stripe.
The Spartans improved their record to 5-11 overall and 2-10 in the WMC. Mason County Central is next scheduled to see action Tuesday, Feb. 22 hosting Onekama in a non-conference contest.
Ravenna slipped to 10-6 overall and 8-4 in the conference, where the Bulldogs trail first place Whitehall (11-5 overall, 9-3 WMC). The Bulldogs are next scheduled to see action Friday, Feb. 25 hosting Shelby.