North held an advantage in three key statistics and Samantha Pirosko scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Rangers to a 65-50 Western Reserve Conference win at Madison on Tuesday.
With the win, the Rangers improved to 14-1 overall and 9-1 in league play.
“We knew coming in that Madison would be well-prepared and they would play hard,” said North coach Paul Force. “They’ve played right with some of the top WRC teams and that was a key part of the message we sent to the girls as we prepared for this game.”
North outrebounded Madison, 22-16, forced 15 turnovers while committing just 11 and the Rangers shot 71-percent from the free throw line while the Blue Streaks converted just 53-percent of their charity stripe shots.
“Bottom line tonight, we won the rebound, free throw and turnover battles,” Force said. “We are tough to beat when we win all three of those. Now we have to come back (Wednesday) and get ready to play Maple Heights. Should be another great late-season challenge and we are looking forward to it.”
North led 16-12 after one and began to pull away late in the second quarter when Val Arnold stole a Madison inbounds pass and found Pirosko for an open shot to give the Rangers a 33-22 lead at the break.
“That was a big momentum boost going into the locker room,” Force said.
That momentum carried over into the third carries as the Rangers extended their lead to 53-35 heading into the final eight minutes of play. Anaunda Lyons hit a 3-pointer to start a run and Ally Lako fed Pirosko on back-to-back transition baskets.
The Rangers also took advantage of a mix and match defense in the post.
“When they decided to double me, we hit our outside shots and that kept me open in the post,” Pirosko said. “We’ve been playing well because we have good team chemistry. We don’t have any selfish players and we mesh well together. It’s important for us to keep this up as we move further into the season.”
Pirosko scored her 27 points on just 15 shots.
“Samantha obviously had some good scoring opportunities tonight and that was due to good floor spacing and unselfish play by the perimeter players,” Force said. “We didn’t have as many clean looks from the outside, but that gave Sam more room to work on the inside. Anytime someone can get 27 points and only take 15 shots, I mean, it doesn’t get much more efficient than that.”
Lako finished 12 and Lyons also scored in double figures with 10 for the Rangers. Arnold and Caitlin Stuart each pitched in with five, Destiny Leo finished with four and Taylor Valaitis added a bucket in the win.
Pirosko led the Rangers with eight rebounds while Lyons pulled down six. Both players tied for the team-high with three steals and Arnold recorded a team-best six assists.
North’s defense held Alyssa Rose, Madison’s leading scorer to just six points, all scored in the fourth quarter.
Aly Berry scored a career-high 18 for the Blue Streaks, who dropped to 5-12, 2-8.
North 65, Madison 50
Madison (5-12): Kless 3, Askew 11, Ledford 4, Galovic 2, Rose 6, Berry 24
North (14-1): Lako 12, Pirosko 27, Lyons 10, Arnold 5, Leo 4, Stuart 5, T Valaitis 2
North 16 17 20 12 — 65
Madison 12 10 13 15 — 50
Field goals: Madison 19 of 38, North 25 of 47; Free throws: Madison 8 of 14, North 10 of 14; 3-pointers: Madison 4 (Askew 3, Berry), North 5 (Lako 2, Arnold, Stuart, Lyons); Rebounds: Madison 16, North 22 (Pirosko 8); Assists: Madison 11, North 17 (Arnold 6)