TALLMADGE — The Ravenna girls basketball team has held its own against its Portage Trail Conference rivals.
However, when it comes to non-conference opponents, the Ravens have struggled mightily.
Not this time.
Although the ending may have given its head coach a few more gray hairs, Ravenna finally solved an opponent outside of the PTC Tuesday night.
The Ravens improved to 1-1 overall after earning a hard-fought 50-48 victory over host Tallmadge at James O. Maddox Court.
Ravenna, which did not win a single non-conference game last season, led much of the way and was up by as many as 15 (30-15) late in the first half.
But the Blue Devils (0-1) roared back and made things very interesting in the final seconds.
In fact, Tallmadge got a turnover in the final seconds and had a fast break. However, the Blue Devils missed a layup and then could not get a clean shot on their final possession with .2 left.
"Give Tallmadge credit," Ravens head coach Sonny Tilden said. "They battled back and never gave up."
When junior guard Kaitlyn Rogers converted both ends of a one and one, Ravenna had a 49-40 lead with a little more than a minute left.
But the Blue Devils scored the next six points and turned agony into jubilation in a matter of seconds.
Trailing 49-42, Tallmadge missed three straight free throws after being fouled on a 3-point shot attempt.
But sophomore guard Jordyn Severns came out of nowhere to grab the offense rebound on the third miss and score a layup to make it 49-44.
In a heartbeat, the Blue Devils turned it into a one-possession game.
Senior guard Andreana Gotto stole the inbounds pass and scored a layup to make it 49-46 with about 35 seconds left.
The Ravens made it a two-possession game (50-46) when Rogers sank 1 of 2 free throws on the next trip down the floor.
However, Tallmadge quickly answered when Gotto scored off the dribble with approximately 10 seconds left.
"I was proud of how hard we played in the seond half," Blue Devils head coach Collin Epstein said. "What we did in the second half is what we need to do for four quarters. I think they came out a little nervous. A lot of our girls haven't played on the varsity level."
Prior to the late-game theatrics by Tallmadge, Ravenna was in control much of the way.
After a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Avery Robinson, the Ravens were sitting pretty with a 27-12 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.
The Blue Devils chipped into Ravenna's advantage in the early stages of the third quarter.
When sophomore guard Lizzie Bickar made 1 of 2 free throws, the Ravens' advantage was just five (30-25).
Nonetheless, Ravenna always seemed to have an answer whenever Tallmadge got close.
The lead was back up to 10 (37-27) later in the period after a 3-pointer by Robinson and a layup by 6-foot-1 junior forward Lauren Calhoun, who finished with game highs in points (17) and rebounds (14).
"She controlled the boards," Tilden said of Calhoun. "Lauren hit some tough shots with two defenders on her.
"We made a couple of passes that gave it back to them, but we had some key blocks. I'm proud of the girls."
The Ravens were able to build a comfortable lead in the first half despite some massive foul issues.
Ravenna's starting backcourt of seniors Jatia Caples and A.C. Chambers had to spend several minutes on the bench due to foul trouble.
Fortunately for the Ravens, sophomore guard Jasmine Pooler and junior forwards Daijah Caples and Katie Ervin came to the rescue.
"Jatia and A.C. are two of my better defenders," Tilden said. "Jasmine came in and gave us some key rebounds and extra putbacks.
"Avery had one of her better games. She hit a lot of threes and had some key blocks. Ravyn Major (8 rebounds) also played well."
Robinson had 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Rogers made two from 3-point range and had 11 points.
"Kaitlyn stepped to the foul line and made three in a row," Tilden said. "They were key foul shots."
Bickar led the Blue Devils, who lost the ball just 9 times, with 17 points and Severns added 14 points.
Ravenna had a 36-15 edge on the glass. Nonetheless, the Ravens, who made nine 3-pointers, also had 25 turnovers, including nine in the third quarter.
But Ravenna finally got a conference win against a squad that has held its own in the always competitive Suburban League American Conference.
"We play a very tough schedule," Tilden said. "We're still a very young team. I thought we did better on 50-50 balls than we did in our first game. It was a scrappy game."