Chagrin Falls dominated from start to finish in a 49-31 win over visiting Lake Catholic on Saturday.
The Tigers outscored the Cougars in the first quarter, 18-5, and took a 35-15 lead into the locker room.
“We knew it was critical to start the season out on a positive note,” Chagrin Falls coach Brittany Anderson said. “We had a rough start last year and we didn’t want to try to claw back into it again this year. There was great energy in the locker room and on the floor before the game, so we were feeling pretty good going into it. Now we have to work on bringing that energy and effort consistently.”
Anderson credits her team’s energy for the fast start and consistent play throughout the game.
“We were anxious to play and finally have it count toward something,” she said. “Everyone was on the same page. We had intensity on defense and we had great ball movement on offense. We got the stops that we needed and got the looks we wanted on offense.”
Lake Catholic outscored Chagrin Falls in the fourth quarter, 11-4, but the game already had been decided.
The Tigers controlled the tempo and played well on both ends of the court.
“We need to play a complete game in order to be successful this season,” Anderson said. “There were times last year where we’d have three solid quarters, but one bad one forced us to work harder to stay in the game. Consistency will be key to our season.”
Carolyn Bencko led the Tigers with a game-high 14 points. Julia Santamaria and Bella Dalessandro also scored in double figures with 12 and 10, respectively. Molly Barr pitched in with seven points, Katie Kwasny scored four and Avery Houston finished with a bucket.
“We have a well-balanced attack this season,” Anderson said. “In the past, we’ve had to put the majority of the scoring on one or two players. Now, we have several players that can contribute.”
Bencko paced the Tigers in scoring and setting up the offense. Santamaria used her aggressiveness to manufacture scoring opportunities and Dalessandro also helped create scoring chances.
“Carolyn got things going for us early and that’s her role as the point guard,” Anderson said. “Julia was able to create a lot of her own opportunities by crashing the boards and finding open places to cut, and Bella had a solid game overall. She found good shots, she found open teammates, and she created offense out of her aggressive defense. We have others capable of scoring in double figures and they’ll have their opportunities as the season goes on.”
The Tigers return to action on Thursday when they host Beaumont.
“We know that we have something really special this season, but there is always something to work on,” Anderson said. “Our biggest challenge will to be to grow in our game and become more consistent on both ends of the floor. (Saturday) wasn’t perfect, but it was a good start.”