North held host Riverside scoreless in the first quarter on the way to a 46-19 Western Reserve Conference victory on Saturday.
With the win, the Rangers closed out the league portion of its schedule with a perfect 14-0 record.
“We came out with a ton of intensity on the defensive end,” said North coach Paul Force. “To hold a team scoreless at this level for a quarter and to 19 points for the game is impressive. The girls have been buying into or defensive schemes from game to game and that was evidenced tonight. Our offensive efficiency wasn’t what it had been lately, but if we can hang our hat on that kind of effort on the defensive end, that’s a big-time plus going into the postseason.”
The Rangers, who improved to 18-3 overall, held Riverside to just 14-percent shooting from the floor and pulled down 37 rebounds in the game.
“We started out good,” said junior Taylor Valaitis, who finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. “Knowing that they are a good rebounding team, we had a lot of effort in crashing the boards.”
Samantha Pirosko led the Rangers with a game-high 22 points and she also pulled down eight rebounds. Destiny Leo finished with eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds and Sammi Valaitis contributed with five points.
“Sam got it going early and they made some adjustments that allowed Taylor and Sammi to have some scoring opportunities,” Force said. “We know those guys are capable and when we make the right reads and play unselfish ball, I truly never know who could step up and get 8-12 points on any given night.”
After outscoring the Beavers in the first quarter, 17-0, the Rangers went on to build a 31-11 halftime lead and outscored Riverside, 12-2, in the third quarter to seal their win and unblemished conference title.
“It was a goal for us to be the conference champs and we did it,” Taylor Valaitis said. “We all worked hard every day in the gym no matter how long the practice was. We all worked hard for this. We have Perry next and we are focusing on them now one day at a time.”
North closes out the regular season at Perry on Wednesday in a battle of conference champions. The Rangers also drew the No. 1 seed in the Division I Perry District.
“Perry is the (Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division) champ and we are the WRC champ, so to end the season there in a battle of champions, so-to-speak, is a challenge we look forward to,” Force said. “It should be a great final tune-up for the tournament.”
North 46, Riverside 19
North (18-3, 14-0): T. Valaitis 11, S. Valaitis 5, Leo 8, Pirosko 22
Riverside (7-14, 4-10): Parsons 2, Rodriguez 3, Fiore 6, Holm 8,
North 17 14 12 3 — 46
Riverside 0 11 2 6 — 19
Field goals: Riverside 7 of 49, North 20 of 55; Free throws: Riverside 3 of 5, North 1 of 2; 3-pointers: Riverside 2 (Fiore 2), North 5 (Leo, S Valaitis, T Valaitis 3); Rebounds: Riverside 30 (Holm 7), North 37 (Leo 12); Assists: Riverside 4 (Parsons 2), North 12 (Leo, T Valtaitis 4)