WILLOUGHBY—Kailey Minch scored a game and career-high 30 points to lead South to a 59-53 win over visiting Riverside on Wednesday.
The Rebels have struggled to finish games this season—including in a 53-50 loss at Shaker Heights on Monday—but rallied in the second half to seal their first win of the season.
“This was good, especially after Monday when we had the lead near the end of the game but we weren’t able to close it,” said South coach Mike Coreno. “When we head the lead here by nine, 49-40, we gave them two quick baskets and I started counting possessions. The kids did well in that last stretch there, the last three minutes of the game. We took a couple of shots I didn’t like but other than that, we learned some things tonight.”
South led after the first quarter, 15-14, but trailed Riverside at halftime, 28-26.
“In the locker room, we said we had to win the third quarter whether it’s by one point or whatever it is because we don’t play well from behind and haven’t played well from behind,” Coreno said. “The kids came out and we played good defense in the third quarter and did some good things. We don’t have a deep bench right now–we’re minus a couple of kids–so the fatigue factor starts to set in. That’s why we wanted that lead.”
Minch took that message to heart and scored 19 of her 30 points in the final 16 minutes of play.
She hit two second-half 3-pointers and finished the game 12-of-13 from the free throw line. Minch drained all seven of her second-half free throws.
Jada Hopps, who contributed to the win with eight points and key rebounds, was 6-for-6 from the line and the Rebels, as a team, converted on 20-of-22 free throw tries.
“That was huge,” Coreno said. “Over the years, I’ve never had a team shoot free throws this well. Minch was 12-of-13 and Jada made all of hers. The thing is, we shoot them every day. We have a drill where you have to hit so many in a certain amount of time and we’ve got it up to where in a five-minute stretch they’ve got to get 20 in five minutes, so I think the pressure part of it is taken off of them when they get in a game and they’re tired because they do it in practice every day.”
South outscored Riverside in the third quarter, 18-12, and held off the Beavers in the fourth quarter.
Molly McGlaughlin, Grace Woodcock and Emma Woolnough played key roles in the win.
McGlaughlin scored eight points, with six of them coming in the second half, Woodcock finished with five and Woolnough added four points.
“Molly hit some key shots, some real key shots, there in the second half. They left her open and she knocked them down,” Coreno said. “Grace has always been steady. This is three years now and she’s started since she was a freshman. She helps take the pressure off because she can handle the basketball and the same thing with Emma. When those three are on the floor, I’m not really concerned with our ball-handling and killing the clock. They did a good job. Kailey had a monster game but Grace helps take that pressure off of her.”
Lacie Lukitec and Ryan Gialamas both pitched in with two points.
Sam Volpe led Riverside with 18 points.
The Rebels host Madison on Saturday.