RAVENSWOOD – Ravenswood versus Ripley.
It has a special ring to it when it comes to competitive athletics. It always has and it always will.
The two high schools could square off in horseshoes or chess for that matter and draw a crowd.
Even when things aren't going well in a given season (and such has been the case for both boys basketball programs in the 2012-13) the fans still show up. They certainly did Friday night on the Devils' home floor – Mick Price Court at the Old Gymnasium – for the second encounter of the season.
The Vikings garnered a season sweep of the series by handing the Vikings a 65-44 setback in what served as the regular season finale for both squads.
The win gave Ripley a 7-15 record for the season while Ravenswood dipped to 5-16.
The Vikings set the tone early by racing to a 9-2 lead, thanks to a trio of 3-pointers – two by Kade Harrison and one from Drew Harpold. Those 3s accounted for all of the field goals in the opening period for the Vikings. The Devils did fight back to keep it close by the opening period's with Ripley clinging to an 11-10 lead. Jake Martin scored eight of those 10 points for Ravenswood.
The Viking offense was again more productive to start the second quarter than was Ravenswood's as Ripley scored nine straight to take a 20-10 lead at the 6:20 mark. Harpold hit another 3-pointer, Harrison made two free throws while Jacob Haynes and Chuck Sleboda each scored baskets during that early stretch of the second.
Ravenswood stopped the bleeding momentarily on a basket by Martin but Harrison came right back and delivered a 3-pointer to give the Devils an 11-point buldge at 23-12.
Following that sequence, Ravenswood appeared to be getting new life as both Dalton Gandee and Martin drilled 3-pointers to go along with some free throws. Suddenly, it was back to a 3-point game at 23-20 with 2:47 to go before the break.
Ripley would close out the half by scoring the final five to take a 28-20 lead into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Ravenswood managed to get within five on two occasions but Ripley came up with key baskets to keep its distance. By the end of three it was a 47-38 advantage for the Vikings and Ravenswood never managed to be a threat in the closing period.
"In the first half they played a 2-3 zone and they were effective with it ," said Viking head coach Craig Harmon. "In the second half we were able to stretch it out a little bit. We forced them out of the 2-3 and that seemed to break the game open some."
Page 2 of 2 - Harmon applauded the Devils for their efforts. Ravenswood has battled a depth issue throughout the season.
"Mick always has his teams well-prepared," said Harmon, whose Vikings defeated Ravenswood at home on January 18 by a final of 55-33. "He does a great job. They are hard to beat at home."
Harrison led a trio of Vikings in double figures with 21. "He got into foul trouble and maybe only played about a half," said Harmon. "He's playing well. He's blossomed. He can be a real good player next season if he works at it. And I'm sure he will."
Harpold finished with 18 in the game and also pulled down a team-high nine boards. Casey Smith chipped in 12.
Haynes contributed six, Sleboda had five, Austin Parsons scored two and Luke Layhew hit a free throw.
It was the same offensive story for the Red Devils with Martin pouring in a game-high 27. Martin hit nine field goals, including a pair of 3-pointers.
"He had a solid night," said Price. "He shot the ball well."
Gandee had eight for the Devils while Heath Burgess scored three. Jon Crow, Logan Jarrett and Matt Peery all finished with two.
Besides his point production, Martin also led Ravenswood in the rebounding department with nine.
"We hung in there and played hard," said Price. "I thought Ripley shot the ball well from the perimeter. They kept us at bay with key shots."
Harmon says the Ravenswood-Ripley matchups are what high school basketball is all about. "The fans go crazy. It's a great environment to be a part of as a coach and player," said Harmon, who was a standout Red Devil back in the '60s.
Price echoed those thoughts. "It's a good house. It always is. One team came in with six wins and another had five. But you would have thought each team had won 25. Fans came to support their part of the county and that's what makes this rivalry unique."
Ravenswood versus Ripley. It has a special ring to it. It always has and it always will.
You can find video highlights and a photo gallery from this game online at www.jacksonnewspapers.com.