Girls Varsity Basketball · Hot start leads North past rival South

Sammi Valaitis
Sammi Valaitis scored a career-high 14 points

Samantha Pirosko scored 16 first quarter points to lead North to a dominating 70-37 win at rival South on Wednesday.

The Rangers opened the game with a 26-2 run and led after the first quarter, 36-10.

Pirosko finished with 28 points, Destiny Leo scored 15 and Sammi Valaitis contributed to the win with 14 points. The Rangers drained 10 of 26 3-pointers.

“When we are sharing the ball and getting the combination of inside play along with shooting well from the perimeter, we are tough to defend,” said North coach Paul Force, who improved to 16-3 against the Rebels since 2008. “I give the girls a lot of credit tonight, they came out of the locker room in a rivalry game focused and ready to play. Doesn’t matter what our record is or their record, twice a year we get to play in the North-South rivalry game and that’s not something we take for granted.”

The Rangers, who improved to 10-2 overall and 6-0 in the Western Reserve Conference, have now won nine straight games after starting the season 1-2.

That streak is the result of winning the battles within each game.

North outrebounded South, 35-19. They also blocked seven shots, recorded 10 steals and turned the ball over just 13 times compared to 16 for the Rebels. The Rangers shot 48-percent from the floor while holding South to just 28-percent.

Valaitis recorded a career-high 14 points by beating South’s zone and converting on 3 of 4 3-point tries. She also pulled down four rebounds in 11 minutes of action.

“It was great to see Sammi step up and have a solid ball game on the offensive end,” Force said. “She’s capable and we’ve known that. She’s worked her tail off to become the player and shooter that she is and it was rewarding as a coach to see all her work and preparation come together tonight. I know she’ll show up working even harder after this.”

As a senior, Valaitis was focused on playing well in her rival’s gym.

“My teammates did a great job at moving the ball and getting it to me for the open shot,” Valaitis said. “This being my senior year and my last time playing in South’s gym, tonight’s win felt even better than I could have imagined. This was a huge team win for us and I’m glad I help contribute to it.”

Mya Matriano and Grace Weyman-Heller both scored eight points to lead the Rebels.

North travels to Brush on Saturday while the Rebels play the Arcs on Wednesday.

North 70, South 37

South (0-12): Stewart 1, Nelson 0, Blasinsky 4, Mann 7, Pecirep 0, Merk 5, Matriano 8, McCartney 4, Weyman Heller 8, Waseleski 0, Ward 0, Cunningham 0, Stevens 0, Simic 0

North (10-2): T. Valaitis 2, S Valaitis 14, Arnold 3, Stuart 0, Lyons 5, Hamilton 3, Leo 15, Pirosko 28, Weber 0, Morgan 0, Drew 0, Johnston 0, Oostdyk 0

North 36 9 13 12 — 70
South 10 7 9 11 — 37

Free throws: North 6 of 11, South 7 of 14; 3-pointers: North 10 (Leo 4, S Valaitis 3, Arnold, Hamilton, Lyons), South 3 (Blasinsky, Mann, Merk); Rebounds: North North 35 (Pirosko 8), South 19; Assists: North 20 (Leo 7), South 9