ELYRIA — Given recent deficiencies, the Elyria girls were eager to craft a good start against North Ridgeville on Wednesday night.
In their last three games, the Pioneers fell behind quickly in the first quarter. In addition, they were facing the Rangers’ Ashley Montgomery, whose 22-plus points per game is best in the area.
But at last, it all came together in Elyria’s 40-34 non-conference victory. The Pioneers (8-5) led 14-5 after the first eight minutes and had doubled the Rangers, 28-14, at halftime. Also, they limited Montgomery to just two free throws in the first half, although the Rangers’ (6-7) senior sharpshooter bounced back with a 10-point second half.
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“In our last three games, our first quarters have been just atrocious,” Pioneers coach Mike Walsh said. “We were down 8-0 to North Royalton, we were down 11-0 to Lakewood and we went up to Cuyahoga Falls Saturday and were losing 14-6 after the first quarter, but ended up winning by 20. We came out tonight and said we need to get off to a good start and I thought we did that.”
Indeed, they got eight first-half points — six in the first quarter — from junior guard Simone Christian and six from senior forward Bergen Read, four in the second quarter. No surprise, Read said the Rangers’ Montgomery was a focus in practices the past week.
“The past couple days in practice, coach told us what they do,” Read, who scored 10 points, said. “He told us how they pick and roll and how Montgomery comes off of it and we’ve done drills like 20 minutes a day on that. I thought Jocelyn (Spraggins) and Teeny (Justine Cabbil) did a good job of containing Montgomery and our defense did pretty good.”
Like Montgomery, Mary Jones — Elyria’s 5-foot-6 junior guard — finished with a game-high 12 points, six in each half. She said the game was important because players on both teams know each other and consider it a good rivalry.
“Offensively, I thought I should just go for some drives and look for my teammates,” Jones said. “I treat this like an (Elyria Catholic) game because they are huge rivals, because we know girls on their team. We didn’t want to lose at all.”
Part of the Rangers’ problem were 15 first-half turnovers, compared to 14 first-half points. They reduced that number to four turnovers in the third quarter, but finished with 27 total turnovers nevertheless.
“We just didn’t take care of the ball and we didn’t get back in transition,” North Ridgeville coach Amy Esser said. “Also, we don’t have all of our guards back, so we have players in positions they’re not used to. We just didn’t play very well.”
Of her team’s turnover production, Esser said: “That’s almost a turnover a minute. We have to take better care of the ball. Offensively, we couldn’t get anything going and give credit to Elyria. They shut Montgomery down.”
Jones and Read were the only Pioneers to score in double figures. In addition to Montgomery’s 12 points, the Rangers’ Brionna Rich finished with 11 points and Cortney Judson with 10.
Elyria 49, North Ridgeville 34
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (34): Ashley Montgomery 5-2-12, Alyssa Riley 0-0-0, Bella Pecchia 0-1-1, Brionna Rich 5-0-11, Cortney Judson 4-2-10, Katarina Kovach 0-0-0. Totals 14-5-34.
ELYRIA (49): Sybil Roseboro 1-0-3, Simone Christian 4-1-9, Justine Cabbil 1-0-2, Mary Jones 6-0-12, Tyra Darden 1-0-2, Bergen Read 4-2-10, Jocelyn Spraggins 0-0-0, Haley Looney 0-0-0, Alexis Roseboro 2-2-6, Alexis Middlebrooks 2-1-5, Bryanna Trozzo 0-0-0. Totals 21-6-49.
North Ridgeville 5 9 10 10 — 34
Elyria 14 14 13 8 — 49
3-point goals: North Ridgeville 1-4 (Rich); Elyria 1-6 (S. Roseboro). Field goals: North Ridgeville 14-46 (30.4 percent); Elyria 21-67 (31.3 percent). Free throws: North Ridgeville 5-11; Elyria 6-12. Rebounds: North Ridgeville 36; Elyria 30. Turnovers: North Ridgeville 27; Elyria 17.
Junior varsity: Elyria, 31-15.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.