BEAVER TOWNSHIP — The Jefferson boys basketball team lost a close game to South Range earlier in the season. Friday’s meeting was one-sided from the opening tip.
The Falcons lost 66-46 at South Range High School. The Raiders won the first meeting this season on a game-winning shot in the final 10 seconds.
Jefferson head coach Rob Pisano said a team could have four or five games where they “come out flat.” This loss just happened to be one of those games.
“You move on to [tomorrow]. Another day,” Pisano said. “It happens in the NBA, happens in college, happens in high school.”
Kody Cunningham was the only Falcon to reach double-digit points. He finished with 18. Anthony DeVivo and Grant Hitchcock both scored nine points.
The Raiders (12-7, 6-6 Northeast 8) also only had one double-digit score — Chris Brooks.
The problem was Brooks was South Range’s best player. He had games highs with 29 points and seven rebounds. Matt Lucas was second on the team with six points.
“We’re a young team and obviously it’s gonna be hard to play physical with those types of guys,” Cunningham said. “It’s really just having backside help, which we weren’t rotating on the back so that hurt us.”
The Falcons (8-11, 6-8 NE8) tried to press throughout the game, but South Range has six seniors.
The veteran team broke the press easily on most of its possessions. The Raiders finished with 19 assists, using four or five passes to work the ball up court. Eli Taylor led the way with five assists.
The first half didn’t go the Falcons’ way. They committed costly turnovers and shots didn’t fall. The Raiders took advantage by jumping out to a 19-8 lead early in the second quarter. The problems continued in the second half as Jefferson went scoreless for the first 3:15 of the third quarter.
Jefferson’s lack of offense allowed the Raiders to maintain a 20-point lead. On a couple occasions, the Falcons managed to get the score under 20, but South Range answered to prevent any hope of a comeback.
South Range head coach John Cullen wanted to take away Jefferson’s 3-point shooting. The Raiders allowed seven — Cunningham had six — and wasn’t as successful as he hoped. But they succeeded in their second goal to shut down Hitchcock.
“[Hitchcock] makes all their players better players,” Cullen said. “That’s why we kinda held him down in the first half. He didn’t make many plays because we kept him in front of us and tried to take away his best move.”
At the beginning of the year, Pisano said he’s not a fan of back-to-backs and Saturday games.
Friday essentially functioned as a weekend game as Jefferson had the day off from school.
He didn’t want to use it as an excuse, but said the schedule change can throw players off their routine.
Pisano’s biggest concern was the team’s performance on the road. He said four of the team’s five worst losses came on the road to Poland, Sturthers, Riverside and Friday at South Range.
“These kids gotta learn to go on the road every night ... focus,” Pisano said. “That team’s got six seniors. That’s what seniors should do to sophomores and freshmen.”