EASTLAKE—North scored the first 10 points of the game on the way to a 53-24 conference win over visiting Mayfield on Wednesday.
The Rangers led at halftime, 29-8, and limited the Wildcats to just 16 points in the second half.
“We talked about trying to hit first and set the tone in games and not wait for other teams to respond emotionally and effort-wise,” said North coach Paul Force. “I feel we came out executing well on both ends and we made some shots, and that always helps.”
North’s success started with the Rangers’ ability to protect the paint.
In addition to out-rebounding the Wildcats, 33-29, the Rangers prevented Mayfield’s players from driving the lane.
“We battled them on the boards even though they obviously have a little more length and a little more size than we do,” Force said. “A couple of their girls that are a little bit better at getting to the paint, we wanted to make sure that we had layers of defense on them and they didn’t have any easy one-on-one opportunities and make them give the ball up. I thought the girls did a good job of helping each other out on the defensive end.”
Cece Hamilton led the Rangers with a game-high 17 points and Kailey Minch also scored in double figures with 16. Mya Latham added six points, Dori Siekaniec contributed with five, Katie Bucy added three, and Sydney Helm, Robbie Sevegen, and Alyssa Gross each finished with two points for the Rangers, who improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Western Reserve Conference.
The win helped the Rangers get past a 12-point loss at Mentor on Nov. 27.
“We haven’t played in 10 days,” Force said. “The last time we played was at Mentor and I think the girls were chomping at the bit and sick of beating up on each other at practice. We had a lot to improve on and learn from on both ends. To have a game like this against a good team early in the season could be a positive thing. We knew they were going to come out in the second half and make some shots, and they did, but we had enough of a cushion to kind of keep them at bay.”
Hannah Peterson led Mayfield with seven points. Nav Buttar added six, Uriah Jennings finished with five, Gabby Moore scored four, and Sincere Lucas pitched in with two points.
Mayfield committed 15 turnovers, which led to 16 North points. Meanwhile, the Wildcats scored just four points off of North’s 11 turnovers.
“We were playing a little too passive there to start,” said Mayfield coach Cullen Harris. “I told the girls something I should have done differently was to get the pressure going earlier to get us going earlier. I give North credit; they came out and shot the lights out, they played hard defense, they showed hard on screens and didn’t let us get downhill.”
After falling behind 10-0 to start the game, the Wildcats worked their way back into the game but never could sustain their runs.
“Basketball is a game of runs and they shot it really well and we shot it really poor,” Harris said. “They’re a good basketball team and I think we are too and the gap is a lot closer than that score, but in basketball, you have those nights where the other team shoots it really well. When you start to make two, three, or four shots and the ball starts going in, the hoop gets bigger. And when you start missing your first three, four, or five shots, the hoop gets really small and that’s kind of what we saw happen.”
Mayfield dropped to 3-2 overall and 0-1 in league play.