North got off to a slow start and never fully recovered in a 69-62 loss in its Western Reserve Conference opener at Mayfield on Friday.
North made a second half run to climb back into the game but the Wildcats withstood that charge to seal their win.
“The urgency we played with at the end of the game, we needed to come out with that,” said North coach Rob Koelling. “We started off a little slow as far as getting the shots we wanted to in transition and defensively they were knocking down their shots early on.”
Mayfield (3-0 overall and 1-0 in the WRC) jumped out to an 18-10 lead and took a 12-point advantage into the fourth quarter.
“They were hitting shots and we weren’t,” Koelling said. “We relied too much on the outside shot tonight. We only went to the free throw line 14 times and a couple of those were technical (fouls) late in the game, so we were really relying on the outside shots. If you don’t hit many you’re going to be playing from behind.”
The Wildcats had three players reach double figures.
Michael Favazzo finished with 20 points, Aaron Hicks added 18 and Donny Castellarin pitched in with 13.
North outscored the Wildcats, 13-7, in the second quarter to pull to within 25-23 at halftime but the Wildcats won the third quarter, 22-13, to increase that advantage to 12 in the fourth quarter.
That’s when the Rangers played some of their best basketball of the game.
“We went to a diamond press instead of a man-to-man,” Koelling said. “The guys were reading the passer’s eyes and seeing certain things and they were getting their hands on the steal. We had some high percentage shots too; we were wide open getting good looks at the basket.”
Jimmy Arnold led the Rangers with 20 points.
“He really attacked their big guy and wasn’t hesitant, which is something we stressed to them,” Koelling said. “He was one who was able to balance that. He had three 3s but he also got to the basket and didn’t just rely on his outside shot.”
Brandon Barron pitched in with 17 points and Aaron Broja came off the bench to score 14.
“Aaron played some big minutes for us,” Koelling said. “He didn’t start but came in and really affected some of their shots in the paint with his size and frame. He also had a little bit of a counterpunch for us at the end of the game tonight, scoring inside.”
The Rangers dropped to 1-1, 0-1.
Mayfield travels to Madison on Tuesday while North plays at Perry on Saturday afternoon.