Sydney Feller went 8-for-8 from the free throw line to help Chardon defeat visiting Brush on Wednesday, 46-36.
The Hilltoppers improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Western Reserve Conference.
“It’s a really big win for our confidence and for our team right now,” Chardon coach Cullen Harris said. “Battling with some injuries and getting an opportunity to get a nice home win against a quality opponent like Brush really is going to help kids to continue to buy into what we’re doing and step up and grow from game to game.”
Chardon entered the season as one of the most talented and deepest teams in the league.
One starter suffered a season-ending injury in the team’s final scrimmage and another went down during the Hilltoppers’ loss to Canfield on Saturday.
“Luckily for us, we had some depth but we’ve tapped into that and now we’re kind of thin,” Harris said. “But, that’s what great teams do and they figure out a way to make it work. I’m really proud of our kids and their effort tonight.”
Chardon held a slim 4-2 advantage after the first quarter and took a 17-15 lead into the break. Brush pulled to within 30-29 after three quarters but Feller helped the Hilltoppers outscore the Arcs in the fourth quarter, 16-7.
Feller iced the game by hitting all eight of her free throws down the stretch.
“I give her a boatload of credit,” Harris said. “She has been playing for us since her sophomore year and as a sophomore, she would have run away from that opportunity. Her junior year, I feel like she would have taken it on reluctantly and senior year she went and got the ball and said, ‘Foul me, I’m going to make free throws and help bring this one home for us.’ I’m really proud of her growth as a young lady and as a basketball player.”
Chardon finished the game just 16-of-30 from the charity stripe with Feller converting half of those makes.
“When I get to the line, I know I’m making those free throws,” Feller said. “Coach knows I’m making them and so do my teammates. Confidence is key to making shots. When it’s a close game in crunch time, I want to be a leader and step up to make a difference and win the game. My attitude is just that we are going to win the game and I was confident in my teammates that we would pull through.”
Danni McCartney also scored in double figures for the Hilltoppers with 10 points and Sam Liechty added nine and Lindsey Nichols finished with eight.
Chardon’s defense also stepped up and limited Brush standout Kayla White to just five points.
“Kayla White was averaging 22 points per game and we held her to five. That’s always a huge bonus for us,” Harris said. “One of our strengths is we’re going to be a really good defensive team like we always are. The kids really executed the game plan we drew out for them and we made some big shots down the stretch, we made free throws to finish the game there in the fourth quarter.”
The win helped Chardon bounce back from a 63-46 loss to Canfield on Saturday.
“We tell our kids, you look at your season and you want to see constant growth,” Harris said. “You don’t want to be playing your best basketball early in the year but you want to make sure you’re getting better every opportunity you get. If you never lose two in a row and take care of your business at home and you’ll have a successful season. We were able to accomplish that. It was a collective effort. Everybody bought in and finished and did what they were supposed to do. I’m really proud of all of our kids.”
Chardon 46, Brush 36
Brush (1-3, 0-1 WRC): Jeter 8, Johnson 8, White 5, Ali 4, Henderson 3, Kyle 3, Overby 3, Frazier 2
Chardon (3-1, 1-0 WRC): Feller 14, McCartney 10, Liechty 9, Nichols 8, Noerr 3, Koppelman 2
Brush 2 13 14 7 – 36
Chardon 4 13 13 16 – 46
Free throws: Brush 6/17, Chardon 16/30; 3-pointers: Brush 4 (White, Kyle, Johnson, Overby), Chardon 2 (Feller 2).