Youthful Ravenna squad drops PTC Metro Division opener at Norton

By COLIN HARRIS | staff writer Published:

Norton High School is no place for inexperience, but the Ravenna Ravens put up a solid fight on Wednesday in both teams' Portage Trail Conference Metro Division girls basketball season opener.

The defending Metro Division champions dropped a 51-41 final to the Panthers but received strong individual efforts from a trio of sophomores in Jalynn Starks, Whitney Jones and Deja Sanders.

"We've just got such a young team right now," Ravenna coach Sonny Tilden said. "There were times where we had a bunch of sophomores and a freshman on the court.

"With all those young players, we just committed a bunch of mistakes that come from inexperience."

Ravenna (1-3, 0-1 PTC Metro) committed 23 turnovers on the evening, but most of the damage came during the first half as 17 turnovers led to a 31-23 Norton halftime lead.

Norton (3-1, 1-0) outscored Ravenna 14-7 in the first quarter -- and 17-16 in the second -- as eight turnovers led directly to 17 first-half points.

Jacklyn Fortner scored seven of her 11 points during the first half and Danya Robatin and Sadie Blackert chipped in with six points a piece as Norton built a comfortable lead.

All gifts from the Ravens aside, Norton was not sharp in its own right as the Panthers also committed 23 turnovers and allowed Ravenna to hang with their divisional rivals in the second half.

Ravenna pulled to within five points at one point in the second half as Sanders (5 points), Starks (3) and 6-foot-1 freshman Taylor Geib (4) tried their best to pull off an upset attempt.

Jones went 1-of-2 from the line to begin the fourth quarter and cut Norton's lead to 40-34, but the Panthers rattled off a 9-2 run that sealed the victory.

Hannah Bergstron, Blackert and Nina Dzombic all scored during the stretch to help give Norton a lead it would not relinquish.

Fortner finished with 11 points to lead the Panthers in scoring. Blackert and Robatin each finished with eight apiece. Blackert led the Panthers in rebounding with a game-high 11 boards.

Last year's team leader in scoring, senior guard Cara Cook, finished with six points.

"I think that we actually came out and did a good job slowing down Fortner and Cook," Tilden said. "The problem with a good team like Norton, however, is that they always have another couple of players who can handle (the scoring load)."

Sanders finished with 14 points to lead the Ravens in scoring. Starks joined her teammate in double figures with 10 points, while Jones ended her evening with nine points. Jones also pulled down six rebounds in the losing effort.

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