COLUMBIA STATION — If every game can be as easy as Saturday night’s season opener for the Columbia Raiders, first-year head coach Ken Marlette will end up looking like a defensive wizard.
But even Marlette is quick to point out that his team is still a work in progress.
Behind the double-digit scoring of Kaley Marshall, Jenna Guth and Alison Schafer and a full-court press that kept North Ridgeville on its heels all night, Columbia coasted to a 46-31 win.
“The girls hit some shots early on that put them (North Ridgeville) at a disadvantage and, with our pressure, we were able to capitalize on it,” said Marlette, who took over from Larry Babics, who now coaches the Raider boys.
“We wanted to get up and down the court with our press, forcing turnovers, and it worked tonight. We got easy buckets.”
That press combined with some hot shooting resulted in a 14-0 lead for the Raiders in the first four minutes of the game.
A basket by Schafer, 3-pointers from Guth and Christine Lyzen and a free throw and three-point play from Marshall forced North Ridgeville to call a timeout to stop the momentum.
The Rangers scored their first points at 3:27 of the first when senior Cortney Judson scored from the paint. By the time the smoke cleared from the first eight minutes, Columbia held a comfortable 20-9 lead.
“I’m happy that we all worked together as a team, rather than as individuals,” said Marshall, who finished with a game-high 15 points. “When we work together, we build a lot of confidence. That showed tonight. We wanted to keep pressuring them, and make them throw the ball all around. We didn’t want to back off, and it led to layups and easy shots for us.”
Both teams went cold in the second quarter, scoring just three points each and Columbia held a 23-12 lead at the half.
Things would get no better for the Rangers, who connected on on just 2 of 19 shots in the third, both by Judson in the final three minutes. Meanwhile, the Raiders all but put the game out of reach, pulling out to a 34-16 lead heading to the final session.
“We struggled with the press and that hurt,” said North Ridgeville coach Amy Esser. “And defensively, the intensity just wasn’t there. That’s where we fell short. Simple things on defense where we are giving up wide-open layups just can’t happen.
“We’re coming back off of some injuries. We just got two girls back last Monday, and we’re still missing another starter. So we have girls trying to fill holes right now. We’ve been hurt all preseason, so now we’re starting to get back into the swing of things.”
North Ridgeville turned the ball over 19 times and shot just 25 percent (13-of-51) from the floor. Columbia wasn’t much better, hitting 17 of 57 shots, for a 30 percent clip.
Backing Marshall’s 15-point outing for the Raiders was Schafer with 12, while Guth added 11. Lyzen knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and finished with eight points. Judson topped the Rangers with 15 points and sophomore Alyssa Riley chipped in nine.
As far as season openers go, Marlette was happy with his team’s performance. But he knows that things will not come as easy when the Raiders visit Elyria Catholic on Wednesday night.
“There’s some things we’ll need to work on before we play Elyria Catholic, but overall I’m pleased with all the girls. Even the young ones that didn’t get a chance tonight, they are the ones that push us every day in practice and that gets us ready.”
Contact John McDermott at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Columbia 46, North Ridgeville 31
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (31): Cortney Judson 7-1-15, Alyssa Riley 3-0-9, Emilie Groh 2-0-4, Jordan Butcher 1-0-3, Sam Wiles 0-0-0. Totals: 13-1-31.
COLUMBIA (46): Kaley Marshall 5-5-15, Alison Schafer 5-2-12, Jenna Guth 4-2-11, Christine Lyzen 3-0-8, Sam Goode 0-0-0, Shelby Friedel 0-0-0. Totals: 17-9-46.
North Ridgeville 9 3 4 15 — 31
Columbia 20 3 11 12 — 46
Three-point goals: North Ridgeville 4-16 (Riley 3, Butcher); Columbia 3-23 (Lyzen 2, Guth). Field goals: North Ridgeville 13-51 (25 percent); Columbia 17-57 (30 percent). Free throws: North Ridgeville 1-9; Columbia 9-18. Rebounds: North Ridgeville 47; Columbia 44. Turnovers: North Ridgeville 19; Columbia 12. Fouled out: Lyzen.
Junior varsity: North Ridgeville, 30-24.