By CHIP CIRILLO | Photos by STEVE WHEELER
Ravenwood rebounded quickly after suffering its first loss of the season four nights earlier.
Seth Erickson scored 12 points and Elon Smallwood added 10 in the Raptors’ 59-44 win over visiting Centennial on Tuesday.
“We had two really intense days at practice and the guys were ticked off,” Raptors coach Patrick Whitlock said of Friday’s 50-33 loss at Brentwood. “So I was eager to get us back out on the court and kind of redeem ourselves from a very poor showing.”
Ravenwood (7-1, 1-1 District 11-AAA) is off to its best start since winning 11 of its first 12 in 2011.
“We’ve shot the ball pretty well for most of the year and we’ve just got a good group of kids that is in it for the right reasons,” Whitlock said. “They want to do the little things and they want to win. This group just really gets it and I think we’re going to be a really tough out as the season progresses.”
Drew Joiner led Centennial (1-6, 0-2) with 15 points and Hayden Pearson added 11.
Ravenwood built a 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter before Centennial made three straight 3-pointers, cutting the gap to 49-43 with four minutes left.
But Ravenwood closed with a 10-1 run to preserve the win.
“We had a couple turnovers, but we were able to run on them, get some easy buckets and score around the rim and we were able to pull away,” Erickson said. “Yeah, well, Friday was a struggle and all we talked about was bouncing back and how we would respond to that loss. And we came out and got the win tonight.”
Unselfishness and playing for the fun of it have been Raptor trademarks in the early going.
Centennial has been struggling ever since losing the first four games of the season.
“We’re trying to figure out who we are right now as a team and trying to figure out our identity,” Cougars coach Pete Froedden said. “So until some of those things are sorted out, it’s kind of a crapshoot a little bit as far as what to expect. We’ve got a lot of young guys out there trying to figure things out.”
Centennial graduated five senior starters from last year’s 18-12 team.
“Elon’s a handful,” Froedden said. “He finished the game by getting other people involved and making plays at the basket, and when you have a player like that it really puts a lot of pressure on your defense.”
Joiner believes Smallwood sets the tempo for the Raptors.
“He’s their leader (with) the way he gets them going,” Joiner said. “And the way that they’re able to feed off each other defensively and offensively. They just flow so well together. They’re just the right fit all the way around with shooters playing out there with ballhandlers and guys knowing how to make the right play at the right time.”
Ravenwood doesn’t have a true post player now, but help is on the way.
Ensworth transfer Sterling Craig, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, will be eligible in January. Waggs Greer, a 6-3 center who broke his leg in a play day, is expected to return in mid-January.
Centennial hosts Riverdale on Friday.
Ravenwood hosts Rossview in the Ravenwood Winter Classic on Friday.