PERRY—It took 18 years but North head coach Paul Force and Perry assistant coach Chad Frazier finally celebrated a Senior Night together.
Back in 1999, Frazier, then the head coach at West Geauga, was unable to attend Force’s Senior Night with the Wolverines due to the birth of his daughter.
On Monday, the Rangers traveled to Perry for a game against the Pirates, who before the game honored four seniors, including 18-year old Ellie Frazier.
“It’s crazy that was 18 years ago but Coach Frazier has meant a lot to me over the years and it’s just another one of those relationships that basketball brings to you,” Force said. “We tell the girls all the time that relationships matter most in life and a lot of them probably wouldn’t know each other if it weren’t for basketball. It’s just cool to see those things kind of go around.”
North handed the Pirates, ranked No. 4 in Division II, just their second loss of the season, 51-32.
“It was big,” Force said. “They’ve lost one game by one point coming into to tonight, so to play them on their home floor and control the last three quarters the way we did, I’m very excited about that. The atmosphere felt loud and intense. It felt like a tournament atmosphere.”
North led 14-12 after the first quarter and 26-18 at halftime.
“We came out and expected a great game,” Force said. “I know they play with a lot of energy. They’re fast and they push the ball up the floor. They caught us early with that a little bit but once we adjusted to the pace of the game and we kept them out of transition we were able to get some space there in the second quarter. I thought that second quarter was crucial.”
North doubled up Perry in the third quarter, 14-7, largely due to the play of freshman Destiny Leo.
Leo scored seven of her game-high 24 in the first eight minutes of the second half to help the Rangers extend their lead to 40-25.
“We were all spacing out the floor well and we got inside-out 3s when Sam (Pirosko) got double-teamed,” said Leo, who recorded her second double-double of the season in a win at Ravenna on Saturday. “I am way more comfortable than I was at the beginning of the season and I really think I fit in well with my teammates.”
Pirosko finished with 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Val Arnold contributed with seven points and Ally Lako and Caitlin Stuart each pitched in with two points in the win.
Anaunda Lyons pulled down six rebounds while Taylor Valaitis and Leo both had five for the Rangers.
North’s defense allowed just 14 points in the second half and the Rangers out rebounded the Pirates, 31-19.
“It was key to keep them out of transition and to crowd them at the 3-point line and make sure they took contested shots,” Force said. “We held them to a low field goal percentage and I think that was crucial. Defense wins these kind of games when you have two good teams going against each other. We were able to clean up the boards on them a little bit too.”
Jordan Schiano led Perry with 11 points and Claire Dolan contributed with eight.
The Rangers closed out the regular season with an 18-4 record while Perry dropped to 20-2.
North opens the post-season on Feb. 23 against the winner of the Kenston-Mayfield sectional semifinal. Perry also drew a first round bye and will play the winner of the VASJ-Edgewood sectional semifinal on a date to be determined.
North 51, Perry 32
North: Lako 2, Arnold 7, Stuart 2, Pirosko 16, Leo 24
Perry: Holroyd 6, Frazier 2, Sutyak 1, Schiano 11, Dolan 8, Hradek 4
North 14 12 14 11 — 51
Perry 12 6 7 7 — 32
Field goals: North 20 of 43, Perry 12 of 51; Free throws: North 7 of 9, Perry 4 of 5; 3-pointers: North 4 (Leo 3), Perry 5 (Schiano 3); Rebounds: North 31 (Pirosko 9), Perry 19; Assists: North 9 (Lako 3), Perry 8