EASTLAKE–After knocking off South back on Jan. 20, North hoped to complete the season sweep of their rivals on Tuesday.
The Rebels didn’t cooperate as they scored 50 second half points in coming from behind to beat the Rangers, 73-63.
“We held them to 23 points in the first half and they scored 23 in the third quarter. That’s the game right there,” said North coach Rob Koelling. “You have to be ready and willing to come out and defend and let your offense stem from your defense. We clearly didn’t do that in the second half tonight.”
South, who improved to 12-7 overall and 9-4 in the Western Reserve Conference, got off to a fast start with seven unanswered points and led 10-3 early in the first.
North responded and pulled to within 12-8 after the first quarter.
Jimmy Arnold then scored seven straight points—including a basket off a tipped South inbounds pass—to give the Rangers a 21-15 lead late in the first half.
The Rangers took a 26-23 lead into the locker room.
“We were attacking the basket and doing a good job of moving the basketball,” Koelling said of North’s first half success. “At the start of the basketball game, we were catching the ball 30 feet away from the hoop, 10 feet behind the perimeter, and then we started playing within. We started trying to pinch that in more and give ourselves better opportunities to score. We were able to get some easy buckets, which opened our outside shots.”
North’s defense held South standout Norm Hughes to just six points in the first half.
That changed in the second as Hughes found success driving the lane. He finished with a game-high 23 points and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the second half.
“We held Hughes to six points in the first half with some great defense,” Koelling said. “In the second half, he got to the basket at will and had some uncontested 3s. There were a lot of defensive breakdowns and a lack of consistent on-ball pressure.”
North also struggled to win the 50-50 balls in the final 16 minutes, which helped South’s offense put together a run.
“We can’t lose that battle,” Koelling said. “They were more aggressive and hungrier on the glass. They pushed us around and we didn’t answer.”
Brandon Barron led the Rangers with 22 points while Arnold finished with 14.
North travels to Riverside on Friday then closes out the regular season at home against Kenston on Tuesday.
South 73, North 63
South: Williams 10, Hopps 15, Small 13, Huff 2, Hughes 23, Schoeppler 6, Ruple 4
North: Duleba 5 Arnold 14, Barron 22, Cunningham 6, Cantrell 3, Skolny 2, Liddington 8 , Tanski 3
South 12 11 23 27 — 73
North 8 18 14 23 — 63
Free throws: South 13 of 19, North 11 of 15; 3-pointers: South 4 (Small 2 Hughes 2), North 10 (Barron 3, Cunnigham 2, Arnold, Duleba, Cantrell, Tanski).