Jeremy Sanchez of North Ridgeville drives to the basket against Olmsted Falls' Eric Hanna in the fourth quarter. DAVID RICHARD / CHRONICLE
OLMSTED FALLS — North Ridgeville gave Olmsted Falls the fuel it needed to pull away Friday night.
Three technical fouls against the Rangers late in the fourth quarter jump-started a Bulldogs run that led to a 66-47 Southwestern Conference victory that allowed Olmsted Falls to stay in first place.
North Ridgeville (10-7, 8-5) cut the deficit to three points — only the second time it was within one possession of the Bulldogs
(15-2, 11-2). But after the three technical fouls, which led to nine free throws on 10 attempts, Olmsted Falls outscored the Rangers 20-4.
“I’ve had one technical foul in six years now and it happened in this game,” North Ridgeville coach Bryan Morgan said. “If we play like this, we’re going to have a great end of the year. It’s just too bad that the game had to be decided by other than the kids on the floor.”
Olmsted Falls built a 25-9 lead through the first 10 minutes, however the Rangers did a solid job keeping the Bulldogs’ top option — Eric Hanna — contained for most of the game. While Hanna finished with 25 points, he only had 11 until midway through the fourth quarter, when the technical fouls helped him pile up 14 points in the final 4:10.
Before the game, Hanna was honored for scoring 49 points last Friday against Westlake.
“You just have to go over screens and don’t let him shoot,” said North Ridgeville’s Jeremy Sanchez, who was matched up against Hanna for most of the night. “You’ve got to make sure you’re physical with him. He’s a good player, but if you get into him, you’ll be fine.”
Sanchez, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds, was the catalyst for the Rangers getting back into the game, scoring North Ridgeville’s first eight points of the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 46-41. Cole Payne followed that up with a steal in transition and a strong finish to bring the Rangers within three.
Then, the bottom fell out.
Hanna drove hard to the hoop on the next play and converted a tough layup over Noah Bayer, who was called for a foul. Bayer leaped up and dashed down the court, the reaction drawing a technical. Hanna converted all three free throws.
“I can’t be reacting that way when a call is made,” Bayer said. “He thought that I showed him up and I would agree. I shouldn’t be doing that. That’s on me entirely.”
The Bulldogs also retained possession and went right back to Hanna, who got to the rim again, but this time couldn’t finish. A foul, however, sent him back to the line. The call drew a loud reaction from Morgan and the official quickly delivered a technical.
To make matters worse, Payne was immediately hit with a technical right after that, giving Hanna six free throws. He connected on five and the Bulldogs retained possession again.
The nine free throws woke up Hanna. He added layups on the next two possessions to put the game out of reach at 60-43.
“The effort was there, we were right with them,” said Bayer, who led the Rangers with 14 points. “We just made mental mistakes and lost focus. I think this is a good learning process for us, to finish games down the stretch against good teams. I think we’ll be alright.”
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or email@example.com. Follow him @CSweeneyCT on Twitter.
Olmsted Falls 66, North Ridgeville 47
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (47): Cole Payne 1-0-2, Jeremy Sanchez
4-3-12, Jason Vrba 4-2-10, Noah Bayer 5-2-14, Tyler Cadle 0-2-2, Desean Fitzpatrick 0-0-0, Zach Perkins 3-0-7, Mikey Richmond 0-0-0, Aris Pecchia 0-0-0. Totals 17-9-47.
OLMSTED FALLS (66): Eric Hanna 7-9-25, Ryan Higginbotham
3-1-7, Braden Galaska 4-0-8, Michael Fritz 3-0-8, Gavin Dietrich 4-3-12, Chuck Backus 2-1-6, Austin Stefan 0-0-0, Kevin Eiseman. Totals 23-14-66.
North Ridgeville 9 11 15 12 — 47
Olmsted Falls 17 16 11 22 — 66
Three-point goals: North Ridgeville 4-14 (Bayer 2, Perkins, Sanchez), Olmsted Falls 6-22 (Fritz 2, Hanna 2, Backus, Dietrich). Field goals: North Ridgeville 17-38 (45 percent), Olmsted Falls 23-47 (49 percent). Free throws: North Ridgeville 9-14 (64 percent), Olmsted Falls 14-18 (78 percent). Rebounds: North Ridgeville 21 (Sanchez 6), Olmsted Falls 22 (Dietrich 6). Total fouls: North Ridgeville 15, Olmsted Falls 11. Turnovers: North Ridgeville 13, Olmsted Falls 12.
Junior varsity: North Ridgeville, 52-51