Sudbury, Ont. - The Carleton Ravens returned to action on Friday night as they visited the Laurentian Voyageurs. Despite a slow start, the Ravens would find their legs taking the first of two meetings this weekend winning by a final score of 80-57.
Both teams looked to shake off the rust from a long layoff in the first quarter but instead found themselves trading fouls, missed looks and turnovers. By the end of the first quarter, the Ravens had started to find their footing taking advantage of being in the bonus early to build a 21 to 12 lead. Entering the night as the number two team in the OUA from the charity stripe, the Ravens would shoot 4 for 5 in the first quarter as they had to grind to pull away from a speedy Voyageurs team.
"When you don't play for that long there's going to be a lot of rust, and there was absolutely a lot of rust," said coach Taffe Charles. "I thought we did a decent job in pressuring them and forcing some errors, getting them out of their rhythm."
In the second quarter, the Ravens would continue to smother the Voyageurs, extending their lead with a 12-0 run before Gaëtan Chamand would score two from the line to get the Voyageurs back on the board. The uncontested pair seemed to revive the Voyageurs who would jump on the Ravens in the second half of the quarter pushing the pass and causing the Ravens to turnover the ball on a pair of occasions as they kept with the Ravens clinging to the 9-point difference from the first quarter.
At the half, the Ravens would lead 38-28 with Lloyd Pandi (Montreal, Que.) and Biniam Ghebrekidan (Gatineau, Que.) leading the way with double-digit points. In addition to shooting 5-for-7, Ghebrekidan had 6 rebounds and 1 assist in the first half.
Asked about Ghebrekidan's strong showing, coach Charles credits his fitness level as a key piece in ensuring he was prepared for Fridays' game. "He is one of the guys who came back in really good shape, he was in really good condition and he was ready to go when we got back."
The Ravens would find their stride in the third quarter, Aiden Warnholtz (Kanata, Ont.) would heat up for the Ravens as they outscored the Voyageurs 22-11 to extend their lead to 21. Through three quarters, Warnholtz would show off hot hand scoring 9 points, all from downtown, while adding an assist and a steal despite picking up three fouls.
The Ravens pressing defence would start to slow down the Voyageurs in the final quarter, leading to Laurentian forcing plays, creating turnovers and missed looks. The Ravens would wear down the Voyageurs in the fourth quarter outscoring them 3 to 1 in the paint as Ghebrekidan and Pandi continued to create in the key scoring a combined 34 of the Ravens' 80 points.
"They forced us to take a lot of outside shots and we did a lot of hoping," admits coach Charles. "We were a little bit off, maybe a little bit fatigued, but it's a different speed and intensity and we're just getting used to that again."
The Ravens return to action Saturday evening as they play the Voyageurs again at 5:00 p.m. on OUA.TV.