EASTLAKE—Kailey Minch had a few butterflies in her stomach prior to her debut with the North girls’ basketball team on Wednesday, but she had no doubt about what she was capable of when the Rangers hosted Euclid in their season-opener.
Minch’s first game as a Ranger was a memorable one as she scored a career-high 34 points in the North’s 61-51 win over the Panthers.
“It was excitement, I think, it wasn’t really nerves,” Minch said. “You’ve done it before and you’re just excited to play a new team, new start. It’s just exciting.”
Euclid hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull ahead 14-11 after the first quarter.
Minch, who scored five points in the first eight minutes, hit three 3-pointers and drained four free throws in the second to help the Rangers rally for a 31-26 halftime lead.
She added nine points in the third and seven points in the fourth.
“I thought she did a good job of picking and choosing her spots and taking what they gave her,” said North coach Paul Force. “Early on, I think she was missing a couple of shots, but if they continue to give her that much space on the perimeter, it’s a matter of time until she gets going.”
Minch finished 9-of-19 from the floor (47%) and was 6-of-13 from behind the arc. She also converted 10-of-13 free throws and pulled down six rebounds.
“We can always do better,” Minch said. “That game was honestly a little uglier than we want it to be. (We want it to be) prettier. We’ve got a lot of things to do and we’ve got to keep going and head for Mentor.”
North nearly ran away with the game in the second quarter but the Panthers rallied from a 12-point deficit to pull to within five points at the break.
The Rangers put together more runs in the second half but the Panthers responded to each with a run of their own.
In the end, the Rangers had too much firepower to overcome.
Cece Hamilton also scored in double figures for the Rangers with 11 points. Sydney Helm contributed to the win with seven points and Robbie Sevegen added four.
The undersized Rangers pounded the boards and finished the game with a 37-21 rebounding advantage.
“We talked about the effort and hustle,” Force said. “One of our favorite sayings is it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. We’ve got some 5-foot-5, 5-foot-6 girls that were scrapping out there against a lot of bigger girls. I was proud of them.”
Helm led the Rangers with eight rebounds and Hamilton posted team-highs with four assists, two steals, and three blocked shots.
“It was definitely the kind of first game that we want to have,” Force said. “I thought they did a good job of putting some pressure on our guards, pressure on the perimeter, and making it tough for us. We were able to get a good mix of knocking down some outside shots and scoring in the paint a little bit. I felt that we attacked and got to the free throw line number of times.”
North travels to Mentor on Saturday.
North 61, Euclid 51
Euclid 14 12 12 13 – 51
North 11 20 17 13 – 61
Euclid (1-1); Jarvis 6, Bailey 0, Harden 0, Reid 27, Miller 12, Byous 2, Wilkerson 2
North (1-0); Hamilton 11, Bucy 0, Minch 34, Colby 0, Latham 0, Stuart 0, Siekaniec 5, Helm 7, Sevegen 4, Namestnik 0, Cantrell 0, Welty 0, Gross 0
Field goals; Euclid 20/55 (36%), North 22/58 (37%), Free throws; Euclid 0/8 (0%), North 13/21 (61%), 3-pointers; Euclid 7 (Jarvis 2, Reid 3, Miller 2), North 8 (Hamilton 1, Minch 6, Helm 1), Rebounds; Euclid 21, North 37 (Helm 8); Assists; Euclid 11, North 13 (Hamilton 4)