Monday, February 26, 2024

Rangers win thriller at Chardon

Two of the top teams in the Western Reserve Conference needed overtime to settle their showdown on Wednesday.

North left The Barn at Chardon with a 52-47 win.

“We knew they were going to be prepared,” said North coach Paul Force. “They have three senior guards that have been through big games and they’re always prepared and play hard. We knew it wasn't going to be a game where we got up early and just kind of rolled. We expected there to be some runs back and forth, trading blows, so to speak. I was real proud with how we responded.”

Freshman Destiny Leo opened the overtime period with a left-handed lay-up to give the Rangers a 47-45 lead. Chardon’s Grace Bradley responded to tie it.

It was all North after that.

Leo hit a pair of free throws and Valerie Arnold’s 3-pointer off an assist from Ally Lako with 1:33 left closed out the scoring.

“Ally had a good drive that brought my defender in on her and passed it out to me to give me the shot,” said Arnold, who finished with 14 points. “It felt great, especially when we got the lead early in the overtime. It was definitely something great to experience.”

Chardon converted just 1 of 10 shots in the overtime period and was 0-for-5 from behind the arc after hitting on 5-of-21 3-pointers in regulation.

“You can't stop them from taking shots,” Force said. “That's a big part of their game, but we talked about players we needed to be closer to and kind of run off the line a little bit more so they didn't have good looks. I think all in all we did a decent job of that. We had a couple lapses here and there and (Chardon) did a great job of getting after loose balls and offensive rebounds to get themselves some open looks. For the most part we executed defensively the way we wanted to.”

North led 18-15 after the first quarter but the Rangers struggled in the second before stopping a Chardon run to take a 25-24 lead into halftime.

The Hilltoppers again strung together some baskets to lead 35-34 after three.

“They made a run there in the second quarter when we went scoreless for over six and a half minutes,” Force said. “They got out and made some shots and made a little bit of a lead on us. We actually ended up getting a lead at halftime after not scoring for about six and a half minutes. I thought that was crucial the way we responded to their runs. They got up again at the end of the third quarter. We handled that run well. I was proud with how we dealt with adversity. We stayed together and executed. We didn't go outside of the game plan. We trusted each other. I was real pleased with that.”

Samantha Pirosko led all scorers with 20 points. She also pulled down nine rebounds in the win.

“Super exciting,” Pirosko said of the win. “We were all so hyped in the locker room. It's a great feeling to win after all the effort and preparation that has been put in.”

Leo finished with 11 points, three rebounds and three blocks. Lako scored seven points and had a pair of assists and Anaunda Lyons pulled down 11 rebounds and had four assists for the Rangers.

Bradley led the Hilltoppers with 14 points while Lindsey Nichols and Tessa Ludwick both finished with nine.

“Tough loss; always hurts to lose on your home floor,” said Chardon coach Cullen Harris. “Two really good teams fighting it out until the end. We knew it was going to come down to one or two possessions. We both got great looks at the end of the game and in OT. To their credit, they made those shots and we didn't. That's basketball. I’m very happy with the effort from our team and we will be better for it.”

North improved to 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the WRC. Chardon dropped to 4-2, 1-2.

North 52, Chardon 47 (OT)

North (6-0, 4-0 WRC): Pirosko 20, Arnold 14, Leo 11, Lako 7
Chardon (5-2, 2-2 WRC): Bradley 14, Nichols 9, Ludwick 9, DiLillo 6, Cremeans 5, Feller 3, Kobuszewski 1
North 18 7 9 11 7 – 55
Chardon 15 9 11 10 2 – 47

Field goals: North 19/42, Chardon 20/65; Free throws: North 8/11, Chardon 2/6; 3-pointers: North 6 (Arnold 4, Leo, Lako), Chardon 5 (Nichols 3, Feller, Cremeans); Rebounds: North 32, Chardon 35;JV: North 46 Chardon 42

Steve Hare
Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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