NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Starting fast and finishing strong is always a good formula for winning basketball games.
Amherst (6-7) did just that in getting past pesky North Ridgeville 49-42 in non-conference play Tuesday night. The Comets jumped on the Rangers early — grabbing an 18-4 lead just 5½ minutes into the game — and ran off eight straight points in the final three minutes to take a 49-39 lead with just 5.9 seconds left. North Ridgeville’s Matt Clark ended the scoring with a 3-pointer as time ran out.
In between, the Rangers (3-9) made a game of it — as they have quite often this season. In fact, North Ridgeville took a 32-30 lead at one point late in the third quarter before Garrett Klekota (13 points, nine rebounds, four assists) finished out the period hitting two straight shots.
“We came out strong shooting the ball,” said junior Adam Srnis — son of Amherst coach John Srnis — who scored 16 points. “But we became lax after making all those shots. You start to relax a little bit too much and (North Ridgeville) started to score.”
Amherst, and particularly Srnis, started very hot. The Comets hit four 3-pointers during the first quarter to grab a 14-point lead. Srnis had a pair of those and scored 14 points in the first half.
The Comets played good team defense early and late. North Ridgeville turned it over six times in the first quarter and committed seven more in the fourth. Amherst swung the ball on offense in building the lead and played smart down the stretch in pulling away.
It’s a style of play the Comets have adopted to combat their size. Amherst’s starting five are all 6-foot and under.
“We started out like gangbusters,” John Srnis said. “They were hitting the open guy, but we kind of went away from that. Everybody thought they were going to put the ball in the basket. Then it became one pass and a shot. The way we got those shots, we were moving it really nice.”
Amherst started the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run over the first three minutes, but the Rangers matched it over the next two to close to 41-39 with 3:36 left.
“I told (my team) I’m saying the same thing every time we walk in the locker room at the end of the game,” Rangers coach Bryan Morgan said. “It happened at Elyria and the same thing (last) Friday at Vermilion and again (Tuesday). We had opportunities to tie the game, take the lead but I can’t find somebody to step up and make a play at the end.”
Down the stretch, Amherst’s Antonio Serrano scored twice inside off feeds from Klekota and Casey McConihe, Srnis hit a pair of free throws off an intentional foul and Klekota put the icing on with another pair of free throws.
Clark hit five of 11 3-pointers to lead the Rangers with 15 points while 6-3 senior Braylon King came off the bench to secure a game-high 11 rebounds.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amherst 49, North Ridgeville 42
AMHERST (49): Adam Srnis 5-2-16, Antonio Serrano 3-0-7, Rees Rua 2-0-4, Anthony Eliopoulos 0-0-0, Garrett Klekota 4-4-13, Casey McConihe 1-0-2, Shane Derricotte 0-0-0, Danny Fortner 3-0-7. Totals 18-6-49.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (42): Matt Clark 5-0-15, Demario McCall 2-0-4, Dennis Millgard 3-0-6, Jordan Montgomery 2-1-6, Nolan Freeman 0-0-0, Tyler Arnold 1-0-3, Chad Kisel 2-2-6, Nathan Colbert 1-0-2, Braylon King 0-0-0. Totals 16-3-42.
Amherst 18 8 8 15 — 49
North Ridgeville 9 14 9 10 — 42
Three-point goals: Amherst 7-20 (Srnis 4, Serrano, Klekota, Fortney), North Ridgeville 7-24 (Clark 5, Montgomery, Arnold). Field goals: Amherst 18-50 (36 percent), North Ridgeville 16-45 (35.5 percent). Free throws: Amherst 6-7 (86 percent), North Ridgeville 3-4 (75 percent). Rebounds: Amherst 24 (Klekota 9), North Ridgeville 36 (King 12). Turnovers: Amherst 8, North Ridgeville 18. Total fouls: Amherst 8, North Ridgeville 10. Fouled out: None.
Junior varsity: Amherst, 49-35.