Rangers collect big win over Brush

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Anaunda Lyons

EASTLAKE—North jumped out to an early double-digit lead then held off visiting Brush in a key Western Reserve Conference game on Monday, 54-39.

Fueled by three straight 3-pointers, the Rangers jumped out to an 18-8 first quarter lead pushed that advantage to 28-15 at halftime.

Destiny Leo scored 13 of her team-high 19 in the first 16 minutes of play.

“We got off to a great start and gave ourselves some space early on in the game,” said North coach Paul Force. “I really noticed in the second quarter a lot of different people making impact plays. Obviously, Destiny had it going early on so that changed the way they were defending us.”

Trailing 5-3 early in the first, Leo, Val Arnold and Anaunda Lyons each drained a 3-pointer to give the Rangers the lead and the momentum.

“That was huge,” Force said. “When those 3-point shots go down you feel the energy from the bench to the floor. Everybody plays a little bit harder on the defensive end and all of a sudden we’re jumping a little higher for rebounds. Those kinds of plays, knocking down 3s and taking charges, those are big energy plays. It seems like we were able to make more of those plays than they were.”

Leo had several of those big plays in the first quarter.

She blocked on a shot on the defensive end, hit the 3-pointer then came back and converted an and-one.

“It was good to see some emotion from her in that first half,” Force said. “I know this was a big basketball game for her. I think she’s playing like Destiny through the first five games. Believe it or not, I think her ceiling is still out there for her this year. I don’t think we’ve seen some of the games that we’re going to see from her. The passion she played with, the energy and enthusiasm for the game, I know her skills are there but I know she’s going to get to that next level when she plays with that energy and passion she played with tonight.”

The Rangers put together runs over 11-0 and 10-0 in the game to keep the Arcs from mounting a comeback.

Samantha Pirosko pitched in with 13 points, Taylor Valaitis finished with eight and Arnold and Lyons both contributed with six. Caitlin Stuart finished with two points.

Led by Pirosko, who pulled down 11 boards, the Rangers outrebounded the Arcs, 28-19, and also connected on one more free throw in the game.

“We won the free throw battle and the rebound battle,” Force said. “If you control those two things, a lot of times you’re going to control the game.”

Valaitis and Lyons both assisted on a team-high three baskets and Leo and Pirosko led the Rangers with two steals each.

Danajah Sanders led Brush with 18 points while Myla Kyle finished with 12.

North improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the WRC while Brush dropped to 1-2, 1-1.

North 54, Brush 39

Brush (2-3, 1-1): Sanders 18, Kyle 12, Jeter 6, Drury 3

North (3-2, 2-0): T. Valaitis 8, Arnold 6, Lyons 6, Leo 19, Pirosko 13, Stuart 2

Brush 8 7 6 18 — 39
North 18 10 15 11 — 54

Free throws: Brush 4 of 11, North 5 of 13; 3-pointers: Brush 9 (Sanders 4, Kyle 4, Drury 1), North 7 (Leo 2, T. Valaitis 2, Lyons 1, Pirosko 1, Arnold 1); Rebounds: Brush 19, North 28 (Pirosko 11); Assists: Brush 10, North 13 (T. Valaitis 3, Lyons 3)

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.