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Irish, Jayallen Turner too much for Red Devils


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Ravenswood’s Logan Alfred (12) defends against Charleston Catholic’s Jayallen Turner during the Class AA state semifinals Friday in Charleston.
(Photo by Jay W. Bennett)

CHARLESTON – No. 6 seed Ravenswood had no answer for Charleston Catholic’s Jayallen Turner here late Friday night during a Class AA state semifinal as the second-seeded Irish secured a 49-37 victory to punch their ticket to the title game against No. 1 Bluefield.

Veteran head coach Mick Price’s Red Devils, who lost 51-38 to Charleston Catholic on Jan. 3 at The Pit, watched Turner go for a game-high 30 points on 10 of 13 shooting from the field and 9 of 11 from the free-throw line, to lead his team to victory inside the Charleston Coliseum.

“They are as good a defensive team we’ve played all year,” Price admitted. “They are a really good defensive team. They made every drive, every possession tough for us and we knew it was going to be that way coming in. We didn’t get enough paint touches tonight. We didn’t get enough drives to the basket because the game was very physical.

“We were right there. I mean if we could’ve executed a couple plays and got a couple defensive stops who knows what happens. Man, that’s why they play the game. That’s the game of basketball and we didn’t do what we needed to do to stop that when we needed to and they just exploded from there.”

A 19-foot swish by Turner near the end of the third put the Red Devils in a 31-25 hole. Max Wilcox extended the Irish advantage to eight thanks to his cutting lay-in via a Zaden Ranson feed to open the final eight minutes.

Ravenswood’s Noah Dawson (4) looks to pass while being guarded by Charleston Catholic’s Zaden Ranson during the Class AA state semifinals Friday in Charleston.
(Photo by Jay W. Bennett)

However, Evan Swain produced consecutive buckets for the Red Devils to narrow the deficit in half. Noah Dawson had a steal and assisted on Swain’s second basket and fellow big man Greyson Keen also found him open on the block.

Despite nearly getting it back to a one-possession affair, Turner followed with his second dunk of the game and converted the three-point play for a 36-29 edge with 5:36 remaining.

Beau Bennett’s lay-in just 19 seconds later closed the gap back to five, but Gio Cinco answered with a 3. Although Dawson converted for RHS to make it 39-33, the Red Devils couldn’t get any closer as head coach Hunter Moles’ program ended the game on a 10-4 run.

“I was really pleased with the way our kids prepared and got ready for this game tonight,” admitted Price, who got 12 points from Dawson, 11 by Swain, eight from Bennett and six by Logan Alfred as RHS shot 48.4% (15 of 31) compared to CC’s 47.2% (17 of 36). “They are as good as anybody and they have a lot of weapons. We tried to do a good job defensively of trying to limit what they can do. I know that we tried to do a good job on Jayallen Turner and the big kid (Ranson) inside. Turner had a phenomenal night. It didn’t matter what he did.

“He was putting it up and in. He’s an excellent player. There’s a reason he’s the(ir) all-time leading scorer. There’s a reason he’s a first team all-stater. There’s a reason why he’s one of the best players in the state and he proved it against us tonight. I don’t take anything away from these guys. They played as hard as they could play and I’m proud of them. Well, disappointed? Absolutely, but I’m so proud of how these guys played this year and how they’ve gotten to this spot. There was only four of us left today and now there’s two. I’m really proud of these guys right here.”

In a game that featured a pair of ties in the opening stanza and a quartet of lead changes, the Irish went ahead for good at 12-10 on Turner’s lay-in to close out the first.

Ravenswood, which watched the Irish score 16 points off a dozen Red Devil turnovers, had its last lead at 10-8 with 80 ticks left in the first when Dawson assisted on Bennett’s trifecta.

“Every ounce of credit to Charleston Catholic,” said Dawson, who made 4 of 5 field goals and all four foul shots. “They are a great team and well coached. They are very good defensively and Jayallen Turner is a great player.

“It was a fun season playing with my best friends. I’m really going to miss the seniors, but obviously wanted to play a little more. I’ll cherish these moments for the rest of my life.”

A Turner 3 late in the first half put the Irish ahead 19-14, but Swain responded with a three-point play as the Irish led 21-17 at intermission following another Turner deuce.

“I was really motivated going into this, especially last year knowing we lost in the championship (to Chapmanville) and now being a senior every day is not guaranteed,” Turner said. “I was just trying to do anything I could to get the win today. My shot was falling and I stayed confident.”

The Irish took a 29-21 lead following a high-arcing baseline make by Jeff Reynolds, but Dawson canned a 14-foot jumper and made two foul shots to narrow the gap back to four.

“Proud of our guys finding a way to win against a tough Ravenswood team,” said coach Moles. “I want to congratulate Ravenswood on a great year. They played well.

“Those guys are tough over there. Just a lot of respect for them and their program. Super proud of our guys. They just did everything we talked about.”

Swain joined Ranson for game-high rebounding honors with seven apiece as both teams finished with 19 boards.

“Putting the work in the offseason really helped,” Swain said. “Throughout the season coach (Bryan) Canterbury really helped me throughout the season, and just work.”

Keen, who tied Turner for game-high assist honors with three, played his final game for the Red Devils along with Bennett, Alfred, Zane Balis and Colton Riggs.

“They are going to be dearly missed. Beau being my grandson, even more missed,” admitted coach Price. “I mean I love him. He’s a great kid and he’s done a great job. I don’t treat him any different than I do these guys right here, but I always want to see the kids succeed. I told them in the dressing room just now, no one is going to walk out of this civic center with their heads down.

“You should be proud and proud of what you did. Hey, could have we played better and shot better? Sure. But, did we give it the best effort? Absolutely, so be proud and be proud of where you are from and you got that Red Devil on your chest. You got to be proud of that.”

As much as Bennett wanted a chance at a state championship, the Red Devils were able to finish the season at 20-6, which marked the 13th time coach Price has guided his team to at least 20 victories.

“For me, it’s been great,” said the guard. “There’s been a lot of great teams, but the thing I’ll remember most is being best friends with these guys.

“That’s where the most memories come, just being with these guys everyday. We’re all best friends. That’s what I’ll remember the most.”

Turner finished with a game-high four steals and had all four Irish turnovers.

Contact Jay Bennett at

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