WILLOUGHBY—Destiny Leo scored a game-high 28 points and Abby Carter added 15 and an impressive defensive effort to lead North to a 62-44 win over host Andrews-Osborne Academy in the championship game of the Melanie Williams Memorial Tournament on Sunday.
The Rangers finished the event 3-0.
“We definitely saw three different styles of teams in Beaumont, Independence and tonight with Andrews,” North coach Paul Force said. “Hopefully, that’s something that benefits us going into the conference season.”
The atmosphere and intensity of the championship game certainly gave the Rangers a taste of what they’ll experience in their march to the postseason.
“I think this was a great atmosphere to start the season. The tournament was run well and was extremely competitive,” Force said. “Even though it was an 18-point game it never seemed like it. They were battling and scrapping. They were getting loud and the crowd was loud.”
Andrews held an early 7-3 lead before the Rangers hit their stride and went on a 12-0 run to take control of the game.
The Rangers led by as many as 20 and never allowed the Phoenix to get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Leo dominated on the offensive end. She finished 8-of-18 from the floor and hit three of North’s nine 3-pointers.
Taylor Valaitis also scored in double figures with 11 points and Maddy Hamilton and Carli Wilson each finished with three points. Avril Drew contributed with two points.
“We don’t want to watch Destiny score 40 or 50 points and I think people picked and chose their spots to come in,” Force said. “Obviously, Taylor and Abby both were in double figures. Carli Wilson came in off cold on the bench and knocked down a big three. Maddy hit a couple of threes early and that made them change up their defense a little bit. A lot of people contributed.”
Valaitis also pulled down six rebounds and added three assists and a pair of steals while committing just one turnover in setting up North’s offense.
“I’m extremely proud of her,” Force said. “She’s everything a senior point guard should be. She can impact the game without scoring like she did the other night when she didn’t score any points but she had zero turnovers, seven or eight rebounds and five or six assists. For her, it’s feeling out the pace of the game and picking her spots and finding the matchups and getting a feel for who has it going. She knows the offense and is comfortable with herself that it’s something she’s doing well early on this year.”
Carter’s defensive effort was even more impressive than what she did on the offensive end.
She pulled down a team-high eight rebounds and added three assists and two steals. Her effort set the tone for the Rangers.
“Abby made some big-time energy plays,” Force said. “People feed off that. When you see one of your sisters out there playing with that kind of pace and making those kinds of hustle plays, it just makes you pick up your energy a little more and I think Abby was a catalyst on the defensive end.”
North shot 32-percent from the floor and 37-percent behind the 3-point arc. The Rangers converted on 19-of-23 free throws and outrebounded the Phoenix, 26-23.