By CHIP CIRILLO | Photos by STEVE WHEELER
Brentwood’s student section began chanting, “We’re the real wood” late in the game.
On this night they were, as the Bruins pounded Ravenwood 50-33 in a showdown between two city rivals off to good starts in front of a capacity crowd at Brentwood on Friday.
The Bruins (9-1, 1-0 District 11-AAA) are off to their best start since 2013, when they won their first eight en route to a Class AAA semifinal showing.
“This is a great group of guys that believe in themselves,” Bruins coach Greg Shirley said. “That’s a great team that we played tonight and they’ve gotten off to an undefeated start for a reason. I thought we played with a lot of passion.”
Brentwood, whose only loss was to Mater Dei (Mo.) on Nov. 26, won its fifth straight.
It’s nearly the opposite of last year when the Bruins started 1-7 en route to a 12-16 record during Shirley’s first season as Brentwood’s coach.
Kellen King led the Bruins with 14 points. Reed Smith and Jacob Gossett, who hit four 3-pointers in the second half, both added 12.
Brentwood set the tone early with a 16-0 run after Ravenwood’s Elon Smallwood made the game’s first basket.
The Raptors (6-1, 0-1) missed their next 12 shots and suffered their first loss of the season.
“We just knew that we had to come out with a strong start and the rest of the game would be easier,” said King, a guard who has multiple Division III offers. “We just said let’s shut them down on defense and make it hard for them. Everybody get after it for all 32 minutes and it will be an easy win.”
Brentwood used a man-to-man defense and a 2-3 zone to hold Ravenwood to six points or less in each of the first three quarters.
The Raptors are off to their best start since 2011, when they won 11 of their first 12 before cooling off for an 18-7 season that ended in the Region 6-AAA semifinals.
But on Friday nothing went right.
“We got outplayed, out-coached, out-hustled,” Ravenwood coach Patrick Whitlock said. “Basically, any facet of the game you can identify we were beat in that tonight. It’s very disappointing. We felt good about our team coming in and I still feel good about our team moving forward.”
Smallwood and Seth Erickson led the Raptors with 10 points each.
Brentwood stretched its lead to 24-6 at halftime and 36-14 after three quarters.
“It’s a very humbling learning experience,” Whitlock said. “Nothing is decided in December, so we’re going to learn from this and move forward and try and get better.”
Defense and unselfishness have been trademarks for the Bruins in the early going.
“We share the basketball,” Shirley said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can score. We’ve got great shooters and guys who can go inside. We’ve got a great mixture.”
Brentwood’s student section wore blue shirts and Ravenwood’s wore Hawaiian shirts for Tropical Night on the coldest night of the fall with temperatures in the high 20s outside. “All my friends in the front row, all those seniors, so it’s nice to get a win for them and for us,” King said.
Brentwood visits Cheatham County on Saturday.
Ravenwood hosts Centennial on Tuesday night.