EASTLAKE—Everything went North’s way early in a non-conference showdown with visiting Shaker Heights but the Rangers couldn’t hold on in a 64-63 overtime loss to the Red Raiders on Monday.
Destiny Leo and Taylor Valaitis both hit a pair of 3-pointers and Samantha Pirosko and Val Arnold each converted an and-one to help the Rangers build an 18-7 first quarter lead. North led by as many as 15 in the first half before the Red Raiders began chipping away at the lead late in the third quarter.
“Give them credit, we got up on them early and they made some defensive adjustments,” said North coach Paul Force. “I thought we handled them okay in the first two and a half quarters, but down the stretch, we made some big shots and made some big free throws but we didn’t get enough defensive finishes and rebounds.”
The Rangers led 38-27 at halftime but Darryn Zeigler, who scored a game-high 25 points, helped the Red Raiders pull to within 50-45 heading into the final quarter of play.
Shaker Heights outscored North, 19-13, in the fourth quarter and overtime period.
“Zeigler made some great plays in the third and fourth quarter,” Force said. “I thought we made her work for them but she continued to get big baskets.”
The Red Raiders took their first lead of the game, 53-51, with 4:55 left in regulation.
Valaitis and Anaunda Lyons both hit a pair of free throws to keep the Rangers in the game and Leo added two from the charity stripe with 1:34 left to tie the contest at 57-57. She hit two more free throws with 37 seconds left to force overtime.
Leo finished with a team-high 22 points, four rebounds, two assists and tied for the team-high with two blocks.
“She doesn’t play like a sophomore,” Force said. “That’s a good experience for her. I know she knows there is increased responsibility on her and she can be versatile and play different positions, but the first game of her 10th grade year and to play the way she did and have the opportunities she did, I think that’s a pretty good start for her individually but I know she’d gladly give up any of those numbers for a win.”
North outrebounded Shaker Heights, 40-35, but the Rangers committed 23 turnovers to just 10 for the Red Raiders.
Shaker Heights scored 14 points on those North miscues.
“I thought we battled on the boards with them but their second half points were critical,” Force said. “We always have to have the defensive discipline and the defensive rebounds and we have to value the basketball a little better than we did. If we had two or three less turnovers in the second half it’s definitely a different result.”
Pirosko finished with 16 points and a team-high 13 rebounds for the Rangers while Arnold and Valaitis each recorded eight points. Lyons finished with six points and 10 rebounds.
“It’s a learning experience,” Force said. “I know the girls walk out of the locker room, you replay a game like this over and over in your head, so I know a lot of them walk out having a lesson learned. If this is what it takes to make us a better basketball team, then sign me up.”
The Rangers look to rebound at Maple Heights on Wednesday.