North holds off Independence in Melanie Williams Tournament semis

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Destiny Leo

Destiny Leo and Abby Carter combined for 58 points to lead North to a 66-55 win over Independence in the Melanie Williams Memorial Tournament at Andrews-Osborne Academy on Saturday.

“I thought we came out much slower than we did the other night (in an 80-75 win over Beaumont), but you have to credit Independence for that,” North coach Paul Force said. “They came out aggressive and defended well. Luckily, we had a solid quarter defensively and were able to get the lead early on.”

North led 11-7 after the first quarter and 35-27 at halftime.

The Rangers focused on holding Independence’s Riley Wilson below her 26 points per game average. She finished with eight points.

“It’s hard to defend a team like that,” Force said of the Blue Devils. “We obviously wanted to put a team emphasis on Wilson, but when they have girls that can shoot it and have solid post play, that team is hard to defend.”

Leo led all scorers with 34 points while Carter added 24 in the win.

“Des had a couple stretches where she had the hot hand, but it was nice to see Abby pick some spots and take advantage of some offensive opportunities tonight,” Force said. “As she gets more comfortable in the system, hopefully, she feels those times when they present themselves. That certainly made it tough for them to just lock in on Des.”

Carter has averaged 19.5 points in her first two games as a Ranger.

“My teammates did a great job of getting me open or finding me in the right place at the right time,” Carter said. “I just had to make the shots.”

Leo and Carter have contributed 55 points per game for North in two games at the tournament.

“It’s great to have her as a teammate,” Carter said of Leo. “Her shooting, mid-range and penetrating game is impressive. But, having teammates that are able to shoot and make plays makes it easier for us to contribute as well as we do.”

Haylee Dmitruk led Independence with 18 points.

The Blue Devils, who dropped to 1-1 on the year, will play John Hay in the third-place game at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday while the Rangers will play Andrews-Osborne in the championship game at 7:00 p.m.

“It’s cool to have a chance this early to play in a championship-style atmosphere,” Force said. “I’m excited for the girls and hopefully we bring the focus and intensity needed. We felt good about some things tonight but we for sure know that we have plenty to work on and tighten up.”

North 66, Independence 55

North 11 24 16 15 – 66
Independence 7 20 15 13 – 55

Independence (2-1); Wilson 8, Ksizka 0, Esper 0, Kaiser 0, Richards 1, Dmitruk 18, Pillar 0, Stepanik 2, Weber 14, DiGeronimo 7, Wilmut 5

North (2-0) – C Hamilton 0, Carter 24, Hammond 0, M Hamilton 2, Leo 34, Vajusi 0, Drew 3, Valaitis 0, C Wilson 3, H Wilson 0, Oostdyk 0

FG; Independence 18/55 (32%), North 19/55 (34%). FT; Independence 12/22 (54%) , North 16/22 (72%). Three pointers Independence 7 (Weber 4, Dmitruk 2, DiGeronimo 1), North 12 (Leo 5, Carter 5, Drew, Wilson). Rebounds; Independence 32, North 39 (Leo 15). Assists; Independence 8, North 11 (Leo, Carter 3)

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