PERRY—Kenston used a furious second half rally to slam the door on North’s season in Thursday’s Division I Perry District championship game.
The Bombers rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to defeat the Rangers, 45-44.
“That’s the way I think a district championship game is supposed to be,” said North coach Paul Force. “You’ve got kids from Eastlake playing against kids from Bainbridge and leaving it all on the floor. One point game either way, it was a great game.”
Everything went North’s way in the first half as the Rangers jumped out to a 16-4 lead and held a 20-7 advantage after the first quarter.
North pushed that lead to 29-15 at halftime but the Bombers scored the first 10 points of the third quarter to pull to within 29-25.
“Credit to them,” Force said. “We jumped on them early and had a nice lead at halftime. We knew they weren’t going to go away. They made a nice run on us in the second half.”
Kate Taylor’s layup tied the game at 31-31 with just over a minute to play but Sammi Valaitis hit a 3-pointer to keep the Rangers out in front, 36-33, heading into the fourth quarter.
Corenna Maynard’s free throws with 15.2 seconds left were the difference in the game.
“Regardless of how the result, I’d be lying if I said anything about any disappointment,” Force said. “There’s no way I could look at the 14 girls in that locker room and the seven seniors and say that I’m disappointed in them. Everybody wants to play one more game this time of year but I’m extremely proud of what they’ve done for our program, for our school and for the community.”
North had a chance to pull out the win when Destiny Leo covered nearly the full length of the court but her jump shot missed long and the Bombers pulled down the rebound with .4 seconds left on the clock.
“For her to get the ball in her hands at the end and get a makeable shot for her up, she knows that’s basketball,” Force said of Leo, a sophomore. “She wants the ball in her hands at the end. Make it or miss it, she’s going to move on to whatever the next challenge is. You didn’t see any tears from her after the game. You leave it all on the court and play the next one.”
Samantha Pirosko led the Rangers with a game-high 17 points and Leo contributed with 14. Rachel Apshago posted a team-high 16 for the Bombers and Maynard finished with 12, none bigger than the two free throws at the end.
Kenston advanced to play Massillon Jackson in Tuesday’s regional semifinals at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.
Kenston 45, North 44
Kenston 7 8 18 12 – 45
North 20 9 7 8 – 44
Kenston (18-7); Taylor 6, Oglesbee 2, Hadju 5, Maynard 12, Kryz 2, Apshago 16, Spehn 2
North (21-4) – T Valaitis 7, S Valaitis 3, Arnold 0, Stuart 1, Lyons 2, Hamilton 0, Leo 14, Pirosko 17
FG; Kenston 16/63, North 18/38. FT; Kenston 10/15 , North 6/15. Three pointers Kenston 3 (Maynard, Hadju, Apshago), North 2 (S Valaitis, T Valaitis). Rebounds; Kenston 29, North 33 (Pirosko 12). Assists; Kenston 8, North 9 (T Valaitis 4)