NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Lake Ridge Academy put on a display Wednesday rarely seen outside the world of video games and basketball fantasies. The Royals shot an astonishing 62 percent from the field to knock off North Royalton 57-50 in front of a capacity crowd.
It was the ninth straight win for Lake Ridge, which improved to 11-2, with the last six wins for the Division IV Royals coming against Division I teams. North Royalton fell to 8-5.
“North Royalton is a good team that has exceptional guards, so to see my girls play four quarters just busting their butts out there, and to see it pay off tonight was phenomenal,” Royals coach Lisa Medvetz said. “Our girls are exhausted in that locker room right now. They left everything on the court tonight.”
Senior center Monet Saunders led Lake Ridge with 13 points and six rebounds. She also made her presence felt with four blocked shots.
“We knew this would be a tough game and we would have to dictate the tempo,” said Saunders, who was 6-of-8 shooting. “The fan support was great tonight and really gave us a lot of momentum.”
Although the Royals led the entire second half after leaving the court with a 30-27 halftime lead, they kicked it into an extra gear in the fourth quarter, shutting out the Bears for the first 5:55 of the final period, while building a lead of as many as 13 points.
“Three quarters of playing hard is tough, but we knew we had to push ourselves even harder in the fourth quarter,” Saunders said. “Coach pushes us hard every day in practice to get us ready for big fourth quarters.”
Kyndall Wellons had 11 points and three steals for the Royals and said after the game that playing in front of a packed gym made the win better.
“It was great tonight when we came out on the court and they got all loud for us,” Wellons said. “We really never have a big crowd like that, but today, everyone came out to support us.”
North Royalton was led by sophomore MacKenzi Matthews, who had 13 points. She scored all nine of the her team’s fourth-quarter points on three 3-pointers, two of which came in the final minute, as the Bears frantically tried to claw back.
The game was tied on seven different occasions in the first half until Sharday Baines put the Royals ahead to stay with a layup with 2:22 to play.
Medvetz said the biggest differences between the Royals team that started 2-2 and the team that hasn’t lost in over a month is the new one is taking care of the basketball and playing with intensity.
“Every time something happened on one end of the court the girls came down and made up for it on the other end,” she said. “We took care of the ball at important times. Early in the season we would have been trying to force things with the lead and giving the ball away. Tonight we took care of the ball and forced North Royalton into mistakes.”
Lake Ridge 57, North Royalton 50
NORTH ROYALTON (50): MacKenzi Matthews 5-0-13, Alicia DeCress 1-0-2, Julianne Lebo 0-1-1, Halle Ezell 6-0-12, Alison Smolinski 2-0-6, Abby Miduri 2-0-5, Lisa Petro 3-0-8, Rachel Flis 1-1-3. Totals 20-2-50.
LAKE RIDGE (57): Selena Benz 4-0-9, Kyndall Wellons 4-3-11, Sharday Baines 2-4-8, Cioyna Mcintosh 4-0-8, Sydney Clark 4-0-8, Monet Saunders 6-1-13. Totals 24-8-57.
North Royalton 16 11 14 9 — 50
Lake Ridge 15 15 16 11 — 57
Three-point goals: North Royalton (Matthews 3, Smolinski 2, Petro 2, Miduri), Lake Ridge (Benz). Field goals: North Royalton 20-54 (37 percent), Lake Ridge 24-39 (62 percent); Free throws: North Royalton 2-6 (33 percent), Lake Ridge 8-12 (75 percent); Rebounds: North Royalton 28, Lake Ridge 21. Turnovers: North Royalton 17, Lake Ridge 17. Total fouls: North Royalton 14, Lake Ridge 11.
Junior varsity: North Royalton, 53-10.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.