Sixth-seeded Mayfield used a 21-6 third-quarter run to defeat visiting North, the No. 11 seed, in a Division I sectional semifinal on Tuesday, 60-47.
Mayfield led 14-8 after the first quarter but the Rangers cut their deficit to just 19-18 at halftime. The Wildcats pulled away in the second half.
“We were 2-21 last year, so to make it here this year is incredible, but our guys weren’t executing early on,” said Mayfield coach Bob Pacsi. “It all started for us on defense. We were playing poor defense early, but we played it great in the second half and then we started winning. Defense combined with making some key shots helped us win.”
North used a 3-2 zone early in the contest then switched to a man-to-man defense.
Led by Brandon Barron, who finished with 14 points, three Rangers scored in double figures. Jimmy Arnold contributed with 13 and Evan Liddington pitched in with 12.
“These guys did what they did all season,” said North coach Rob Koelling. “They battled and they grind. It’s never over for them. Then Mayfield got hot and they must’ve made about 70-percent of their shots in the third quarter. That’s hard to beat.”
North won just four games during the 2017-2018 season but there are better days ahead for the Rangers, who return four of five starters.
“We learned a lot from this year’s senior class, especially how to lead,” Liddington said. “With that being said, the future is bright. We’re returning a lot of guys and a lot of strong role players.”
Julius Vann scored a game-high 23 points for Mayfield, who advanced to play No. 3 seed Mentor in the sectional championship game on Saturday.
“It will be tough to upset Mentor,” Pacsi said. “They have twice the shooters we have. I’ve told my players that they should watch Mentor if they want to learn how to play because Mentor just goes after it. The effort is always there. If we want to be successful Saturday, we have to make sure that their defensive pressure doesn’t suffocate us because if their pressure gets to us, it can become a long game quickly as they find their shooters in transition.”