Sandusky Perkins edges Shaker Heights at Classic in the Country

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Sandusky Perkins 50, Shaker Heights 46
Both Sandusky Perkins and Shaker Heights had bad beginnings to their
meeting Monday at the Classic in the Country that had nothing to do
with anything that happened in the game. Perkins shook off its slow start and overcame an early 10-point
deficit, then held on at the and for a 50-46 victory at the Perry Reese
Community Center.


BERLIN – Both Sandusky Perkins and Shaker Heights had bad beginnings to their meeting Monday at the Classic in the Country that had nothing to do with anything that happened in the game.

Perkins shook off its slow start and overcame an early 10-point deficit, then held on at the and for a 50-46 victory at the Perry Reese Community Center.

“We had to take care of a situation,” Perkins coach Ray Neill said. “I was worried about how we were going to react to it. I’m very proud, very pleased with my team for how they worked through that.”

Neill benched star post player Cierra Bravard for the first several minutes of the contest, reprimanding her for an off-the-court incident.

With the 6-foot-5 Florida State-bound All-Ohioan on the bench, the Raiders (11-7) raced out to a 16-6 lead. The Pirates (13-1, ranked No. 2 in the Division II state poll) held the fort until Bravard got into the game. By the end of the first quarter, they were within 19-14.

“We had a great stretch at both ends of the floor,” Neill said. “We got it back to a five- or six-point game, then we brought Cierra back in. Obviously there was an issue with Cierra. But she forgot about it. She responded how we hoped she would.”

In basically three quarters of a game, Bravard scored a game-high 24 points on 6-of-12 shooting (and 12 of 15 from the foul line). She also had a game-best 10 rebounds.

Once she took the floor, the Pirates took off. They outscored Shaker 19-4 in the second quarter, completing a 27-7 run that left them with a 33-23 halftime lead.

“We hit some quick threes and it almost came a little too easy early on,” Raiders coach Don Readance said. “I can’t complain about the start. It’s the big gap in between.”

With the Pirates playing more of a deliberate half-court game, and Shaker falling into that gap, things came easily for Perkins. The Pirates worked the ball, most often to Bravard, who scored over the top of the undersized Raiders.

“Part of the problem is we needed to create some tempo with our defense,” Readance said. “We needed to get some pressure on the ball and keep them from swinging it around to Bravard. We gave them too many open looks.”

That resulted in Perkins shooting 50 percent in the first half.

In the second half, the Raiders turned things around. They picked up the tempo, forced the issue and things started to happen.

By the end of the third quarter the Raiders had pulled within 39-35, but they couldn’t close the gap in the fourth.

Shaker finally closed within three points with less than 20 seconds left and Jasmine Washington had a good look at a 3-pointer from the corner. Bravard rebounded the miss, but fell and was called for traveling with 4.4 seconds left.

The Raiders turned the ball over on the ensuing inbound play, and couldn’t get off another tying attempt. Trisha Krewson’s free throw at the other end took away all doubt.

“After yesterday, coming up with a bad ending (in a loss to South Euclid Regina), we needed one today,” Neill said. “We needed one for our program. We didn’t want to see 0-4 after Perkins in the next Classic in the Country media guide.”

Karisma Penn, a 6-foot-2 junior, led Shaker Heights with 12 points and seven rebounds. She did that despite the unenviable task of playing against Bravard on the defensive end.

“She’s so long and big, and it’s hard to guard her,” Penn said. “And even then, they set so many screens for her that you have to work your way through all the screens. It’s hard.”

Bethany Caudill added nine points for Perkins, which shook off the effects of a two-point loss to South Euclid Regina the day before. Mallory Mullins scored eight.

Shaker got eight points from Jasmine Washington, seen from Aja Fitten and six from Lillian Pitts.

The Raiders were playing their second game in three days away from home. They played in Pickerington against Pickerington Central on Saturday before traveling to Berlin. In between, they had finals to study for, with Shaker’s finals period straddling the weekend.

That made the Raiders’ quick start all the more impressive, as well as their energy late in the game. Readance didn’t use all the travel and distractions as an excuse and said he hopes his team gets another invite to the Classic.

“It’s a great experience, the atmosphere, the community,” he said. “It may not even have sunk in with some of the girls as far as what it means.”

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