In District Finals
MILFORD – When you get to the district finals in tournament basketball, every game is close and tight. For the Ruthven-Ayrshire Raiders, Thursday’s matchup with the Mustangs of George-Little Rock was a perfect example of that truism, but the final outcome wasn’t what the Raiders had hoped for.
Ruthven-Ayrshire saw their magical season come to an end in a 59-51 loss to George Little Rock. The loss concludes the Raiders’ season with a mark of 18-5.
“The Raiders played a great basketball game but ran out of time,”?observed Head Coach Randy Hough.
Coming into the contest, the Raiders knew they faced a challenge in the George-Little Rock squad with its height and tough scoring. But, with a season mark of 10-13, the Mustangs were a beatable foe on paper.
Ruthven-Ayrshire and the ?Mustangs took some time to feel each other out on Thursday, with neither team scoring in the first 2:00 of the contest. The Raiders showed great patience in working for the good shot against the Mustang defense, but it was Ruthven-
Ayrshire who would close the first quarter with a 12-9 advantage.
The two teams would trade buckets in the first few minutes of the second quarter, but with 4:20 to go in the half, George-Little Rock tied the game up at 17-17. The Mustangs would never surrender the lead after that point, and when the first half ended, George-Little Rock held a 26-21 lead over the Raiders at the intermission.
George-Little Rock would come out in the second half and started to edge away from the Raiders after making some defensive adjustments during the break. The Raiders continued to work for the good shot on the offense, but the Mustangs were able to edge out to a nine-point lead as they shot the ball well. In the meantime, the Raiders struggled with some shots against George-Little Rock’s defense, but trailed 41-32 at the end of the final quarter.
Ruthven-Ayrshire would not surrender in the final quarter, as a three-pointer by Brad Geelan seemed to spark the Raiders, who quickly closed to within four points, 45-41, with 5;30 to go in the contest.
George-Little Rock would come back with back-to-back buckets to slip back to an eight-point lead, but the Raiders kept fighting.
The Mustangs continued to shoot well, getting lots of put-backs and second shot opportunities while the Raiders kept fighting for their shots. George-Little Rock slipped out to an 11-point lead at one point, but then came back to cut the margin to six points, but with time running down, George-Little Rock would slip back out to take the 59-51 decision at the final horn as the season ended quietly for the Raiders.
Al Japenga and Carl Jensen both scored 13 points each for the Raiders in the effort, while Brad Geelan added 10 points. Ryan Sikora came away with nine points, while Cody Zielstra, Mark Geelan and Kyle Simington each chipped in two points to the effort.
Al Japenga pulled down nine rebounds for the Raiders, while Ryan Sikora collected five boards. Brad Geelan dished out five assists and Carl Jensen blocked one shot.
“All in all it was a great season for the Raiders,”?noted Ruthven-Ayrshire Head Coach Randy Hough. “We lose seven seniors who contributed very strongly to our program for the last two years. And, we want to thank our fans for their great support throughout the season.”