SULLIVAN - It looked like another sad chapter would be written in the recent history of North Ridgeville girls basketball Saturday.
The Rangers, coming off a winless season and riding a
21-game losing streak, fell behind Black River 9-4 in the first quarter and trailed 18-13 at halftime.
But then a funny thing happened. North Ridgeville came out for the second half and blew away the Pirates for a 39-23 win in the season opener for both teams. It was the first win for North Ridgeville since Feb. 14, 2006, when the Rangers beat Eastlake North 41-36.
After that came a season-ending loss to Avon Lake in the sectional tournament and an 0-20 record in the 2006-07 season.
Using a strong full-court press and some hot shooting Saturday, Ridgeville outscored Black River 20-1 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
"We changed some personnel out on the floor to utilize our speed," North Ridgeville coach Denise Smith said of the change from the first half to the second.
"We saw they were having some ball-handling issues so we went with a full-court man press."
It was Smith`s first win since becoming North Ridgeville coach at the start of last season.
Although there were eight minutes left after the Rangers` third-quarter blitz, it wasn`t enough for Black River. North Ridgeville continued its pressing defense, forcing nine turnovers and outscoring the Pirates 6-4 in the final quarter.
Asked about Black River dominating the first half, Smith said, "That`s what`s so good about our team. We have height and we have speed, so no matter what the game tempo is going to be, we`re going to try to dictate it.
"This time we got to turn it around, so that was great."
Black River coach Bill Roniger saw the game as a learning experience for his team.
"There was nothing we did wrong that can`t be fixed, and that`s what we are going to work on," he said. "The best thing I liked was that our girls had two choices. They could roll over and continue what was happening or they could change it. They tried to change it.
"I`m very pleased with the last five or six minutes. The other thing I like is their spirit after the game. They know what they need to fix and know what they have to work on. And that`s what we`ll do. We`ll work on things from top to bottom."
Paige Gorzelanczyk led North Ridgeville with nine points while Chelsey Calhoun led the Pirates with nine points.
Contact Ron Nenadal at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
North Ridgeville 39,
Black River 23
NORTH RIDGEVILLE(39): Gorzelanczyk 4-1-9, M. Vidoni 0-1-1, Dunlap 2-1-5, Berghaus 2-3-7, Becker 0-1-1, Swindell 1-0-2, Millner 2-2-6, Reed 2-1-5, K. Vidoni 1-1-3. Totals 14-11-39.
BLACK RIVER (23): Keathley 1-0-2, Lutz 1-1-3, Calhoun 4-1-9, Altenburger 1-1-3, Plank 1-0-2, Coffman 1-2-4, Hoffman 0-0-0, Shanko 0-0-0, Carr 0-0-0, Eishen 0-0-0. Totals 8-5-23.
North RidgevilleÂ Â 4Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 9Â Â Â Â Â Â 20Â Â Â 6Â Â Â Â Â Â - Â Â 39
Black RiverÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 9Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 9Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1Â Â Â Â Â Â 4Â Â Â Â Â Â - Â Â Â Â Â 23
Three-point goals: None. Field Goals: North Ridgeville 14-48, Black River 8-45. Free Throws: North Ridgeville 11-23, Black River 5-18. Rebounds: North Ridgeville 40, Black River 28. Turnovers: North Ridgeville 32, Black River 34. Fouls: North Ridgeville 15, Black River 17.
Junior Varsity: N. Ridgeville 54, Black River 12.