North’s double-overtime loss to Riverside on Friday quickly became a distant memory following the Rangers’ 64-59 upset win at South on Saturday.
“If I had to take one, I guess I’ll take this one instead of letting the ball bounce our way (against Riverside),” said North coach Rob Koelling. “What an environment and outcome. It was well deserved.”
The Rangers jumped on the Rebels early.
They led 22-13 after the first quarter and 43-30 at halftime. North weathered South’s 19-10 third quarter run and held on to the lead in the fourth.
“Last year, they came out and they landed the first couple of punches right off the bat and took the air out of us,” Koelling said. “Tonight, we started the first two quarters with a 22 and 21-point quarter. We attacked and got to the basket. Throughout the game that created the outside shots for us. The guys have been going through a shooting slump but the 3s started dropping tonight. We were aggressive and got after it from the start.”
Jimmy Arnold drained two first quarter 3s and Brian Skolny also hit one to help the Rangers get off to the hot start.
Arnold, Skolny and Riley Cunningham hit long-range shots in the second quarter to keep the momentum in North’s favor.
Brandon Barron scored a team-high 15 points and converted four free throws in the fourth quarter for the Rangers while Arnold finished with 13 and Cunningham pitched in with 10.
Aaron Broja and Skolny contributed with nine and eight points, respectively.
“Riley Cunningham came off the bench and had 14 points against Riverside and 10 tonight. He had some big 3s,” Koelling said. “Jimmy Arnold set up some shots and drove to the basket. Barron finished it off with some clutch free throws down the stretch when we needed them.”
Corey Cantrell scored four points in the win but he was more effective on the defensive end of the court.
“The last 24 hours, Corey Cantrell has probably had the biggest impact on this team defensively in guarding the other team’s best player and face-guarding him and making him earn his points,” Koelling said.
Cantrell did what he could to help the Rangers get back on the right track.
“Being able to bounce back like we did was huge,” Cantrell said. “It could be a huge momentum shifter for our season and for it to be against our rivals on their home court, we couldn’t ask for a better team to play like that against. The past few games we’ve been dealing with injuries and other things so I knew my time to step up would come, and when my team needed me I just did what was asked of me. I knew my role and I just went out there and played the best defense I could on the other team’s best offensive players and tried to put my team in the best position to win these past two games.”
North improved to 4-8 overall and 2-4 in the Western Reserve Conference.
The Rangers snapped a two-game losing skid and put together two solid games in a row.
“We’ve been preaching to these guys about the desire, the passion and the pride we need to step on the floor with and to play for 32 minutes,” Koelling said. “Between last night and tonight, they played with laser focus and the mental preparation to come out and execute. They put everything out there on the line and they earned it for four quarters.”
North travels to Euclid on Tuesday.
North 64, South 59
North (4-7): Arnold 13, Barron 15, Cunningham 10, Cantrell 4, Skolny 8, Liddington 5, Braja 7.
South (7-4): Williams 12, Hopps 9, Small 16, Huff 5, Hughes17.
North 22 21 11 10 — 64
South 13 17 19 10 — 59
Free throws: South 10 of 16, North 13-19; 3-pointers: South 5 (Hughes 3, Huff, Small) North 7 (Skolny 2, Cunningham 2, Arnold 3)