Ravenswood falls to Notre Dame

Ravenswood High School, which won the Little Kanawha Conference championship for head coach Mick Price, poses with the Class A state runner-up trophy following Saturday’s championship game loss to Notre Dame inside the Charleston Civic Center. Photo by Jay W. Bennett.

CHARLESTON — Notre Dame was unconscious from the field in the first half during the Class A state championship game and Ravenswood battled from behind all afternoon here Saturday inside the Charleston Civic Center before eventually falling to the Irish, 63-55.

State Player of the Year candidate and Marshall University-bound Jarrod West, Jr. poured in a game-high 29 points while teammate Gabe Zummo tallied 13 of his 15 markers in the opening half for the Irish, who jumped out to a 10-0 lead and hit 13 of their first 18 field-goal attempts, which included going 7 of 10 from downtown, en route to taking a commanding 43-21 halftime advantage.

“I just want to say how proud I am of my team,” said Ravenswood head coach Mick Price, whose club was led by senior Riley Heatherington’s 25 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block. “We dug ourselves a hole today by turning the ball over 10 times and they scored 22 points off our turnovers in the first half.

“The easiest thing for these guys to have done was just,’man, we just don’t have it today,’ but they didn’t. They just kept playing. We were just trying to get a break, trying to get a shot, trying to get to the bonus and my hats off to these kids. It’s easy to fold when nothing is expected of you, especially when you are down like that and we did not do that today. They have the heart of a champion.”

Notre Dame’s Jarrod West beats the first quarter buzzer during Saturday’s Class A state championship game as Ravenswood’s Stephen Dawson (23) and Blake Bennett (4) challenge the shot. West had a game-high 29 points and led the Irish to their first state title via a 63-55 victory against the Red Devils. Photo by Jay W. Bennett.

Former West Virginia University Mountaineer and Irish head coach Jarrod West, whose squad saw its lead shrink to seven points with 1:26 to play following a Jayden Rhodes 3-pointer, went 16 of 25 (64 percent) from the field in the first half and 9 of 14 from beyond the arc.

“It felt like that fourth quarter took two hours,” said the coach, whose program made just 5 of 15 field goals after intermission. “What a game. Two games, really. That first half, if not the best, was one of the best halves we’ve played all year.

“We shot the ball great and defended well. Riley was a handful getting to the basket and drawing fouls. We made enough shots (in the second half). To win a state championship, you’ve got to be gritty and tough.”

That’s exactly what Ravenswood showed to start the second half as the Red Devils went on a 7-0 spurt. Rhodes had a 3, Isaiah Morgan canned a 14-foot baseline jumper and then Heatherington took a feed from Stephen Dawson and converted a turnaround jumper in the paint.

Hayden Mandrake, the Red Devils’ only other senior, had a pair of 3s just 24 seconds apart and two foul shots from Heatherington to close out the scoring in the third had Ravenswood trailing by a baker’s dozen, 51-38.

Ravenswood head coach Mick Price and Notre Dame head man Jarrod West shake hands prior to the start of Saturday’s Class A state championship game. Photo by Jay W. Bennett.

Noah Bohanna’s deuce with 2:25 left in the game gave the Irish what looked like a comfortable 56-42 cushion, but the Little Kanawha Conference champion Red Devils responded with a 9-2 run, thanks to six points from Heatherington and Rhodes’ triple.

However, that was as close as Ravenswood got the rest of the way. Blake Bennett, who hit a 3 for the final points with six seconds remaining, finished the game on the court with fellow Red Devil teammates J.T. Ball, Lakin Tucker, Chase Swain and Alex Easthom after the starters exited with about a minute left.

“He’s a tough player,” Mandrake said of West. “He’s going to get his shots and all you can do is hope to slow him down and we just didn’t get the job done. He played a great game. Hats off to him.

“I mean it’s been great. It’s been a long ride, a great ride. Coach Price is a great coach and Riley is a great teammate and we’ve been together forever. It sucks we fell short, but it’s been a fun ride.”

Heatherington, who was joined on the all-tournament team by Morgan, West, Zummo, Madonna’s Joey Ewusiak and Tavon Jeter as well as Wheeling Central’s Brent Price and Owen Gainer, added “I’ve been here since second grade and being with this program and him (coach Price), he’s coached me a lot and taught me everything. It’s an honor.”

Ravenswood, which also took home the tournament’s school spirit award, concluded its campaign at 24-3. The Irish, who made the big dance in all four of West’s seasons, finished 23-5.

“Hopefully, we’re back here next year,” said the junior Dawson, who had seven points. “But we are going to miss these two (seniors) a lot. They meant a lot to us and we’ve played with them since we were growing up. We’ve got a lot coming back and hopefully we come back here next year.”