Ravens roll to 72-56 win over Word of God

ntaylor@newsobserver.comJanuary 11, 2012 

Ravenscroft's Anton Gill, left puts up a jump shot over Word Of God's Josh Newkirk (1). Gill led all scorers with 23 points in the Ravens' 72-56 win.

GREG MINTEL — GREG MINTEL - newsobserver.com

— The plan Ravenscroft coach Kevin Billerman put together for the second half against Word of God was simple.

With his Ravens down three at halftime, Billerman drew up a play for guard Anton Gill. When Gill came off a screen, he swished a wide-open 3-pointer.

“I thought he’d knock it down and tie the game right away,” Billerman said of Gill. “I wanted our kids to feel that.”

Next for Billerman was point guard Madison Jones, who didn’t score in the first half. Jones responded by making a 3-pointer as well. And when center Marcus Bryan started rebounding, the Ravens rolled to a 72-56 win Wednesday night in front of their fans inside a packed gym.

By having his best three players find success early, Billerman watched the Ravens go on a 16-2 run in the third quarter.

The Ravens almost executed his plan perfectly.

“I thought we were patient and took good shots,” Billerman said.

That hadn’t been the case in the past for Ravenscroft (14-2). Word of God had won the previous four games, and even though the two teams are in different conferences, the game has become a rivalry for both schools.

Gill, a junior, led the Ravens with 23 points by shooting a high percentage from the outside.

“I had a few looks that I liked and I knocked it down,” Gill said. “This is special for me because I’ve never beaten them.”

Gill, along with Billerman, said Bryan was the reason the Ravens played better defense. As important as Bryan’s 19 points were, he was just as impressive with 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.

“When he plays like that we’re really hard to beat,” Gill said of Bryan. “We wouldn’t have played this well without him.”

Bryan showed soft hands around the basket to score in traffic. He was also surprised with how he was able to alter many of the Rams’ shots.

“I just went after it in the second half,” Bryan said of his blocks. “I think it really helped us in transition, but the key was we didn’t let them to have second shots.”

Jones scored 14 points in the second half.

In the third quarter, Jones made two 3-pointers and drove to basket for a two-handed dunk that extended the Ravens’ lead to 13 points and forced Word of God coach Randy Pulley to call a timeout.

The Rams (8-4) did cut the Ravens’ lead to single digits behinds Jaquan Brownridge’s 19 points, but Jones limited Brownridge in the second half.

“Madison did a heck of a job on (Brownridge),” Billerman said. “What a lot of people don’t know is that Madison has been playing well on defense.”

Just as he planned it, Billerman’s trio performed well.

“We have great chemistry,” Gill said of his two teammates. “We’re really starting to come together so hopefully we can make a run after this.”

Taylor: 919-829-4538

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