North got off to a fast start in a 68-47 win over visiting Mayfield in the Western Reserve Conference opener for both teams on Wednesday.
The Rangers led 33-18 at halftime in improving to 4-0 on the year. Destiny Leo scored 23 of her game-high 31 points in the first 16 minutes.
“I felt we got out to a quick start and once they started trying to slow Destiny down, other girls stepped up and we had our best offensive quarter of the night there coming out of halftime,” North coach Paul Force said. “We’ve shown good balance early this season and that’s something that we’ve tried to preach, just trust each other and make the smart basketball play.”
Leo, who now averages 32.5 points per game, drained three 3-pointers and converted on 12 of 14 free throw attempts.
Avril Drew added 10 points for the Rangers and Abby Carter finished with nine.
“Eastlake North is an excellent team, so credit them and Coach Force for being where they are,” Mayfield coach Ryan Looman said. “We came into the night with an idea to try and limit Destiny and Abby, and Destiny really took over in the first half, made us pay on the offensive end and helped to push their team ahead. In the second half, we did a much better job, but the rest of their team really picked up.”
North outscored Mayfield in the third quarter, 21-11, but the Wildcats finished the fourth with an 18-14 advantage. By then, the damage had been done.
Katelyn Kinczel led Mayfield with 19 points. Juls Consolo pitched in with 11 and Catherine Rock finished with 10.
“Overall, we didn’t shoot very well at all,” Looman said. “We were awful on shots in the paint and didn’t rebound like we had hoped. In an off night, to get to 47 points was a positive, but we can’t dig the hole we did on the road and expect to recover from it. We’ll be fine. We’ll put it behind us and we’ll be ready for Madison on Saturday.”
With the win, the Rangers collected their 14th straight WRC victory. Their last league loss was a 51-49 setback at Mayfield on Feb. 8, 2017.
While the Rangers hope to defend the league title they won last season, they’re taking it one game a time.
“We aren’t looking too far ahead as far as the league,” Force said. “The season goes too fast. We really have to just stay in the present and embrace the opportunities that we have to learn and improve together. It’s always better to learn through wins than losses, but we will embrace whatever comes our way.”
North hosts Brush on Saturday while Mayfield looks to bounce back at Madison.
North 68, Mayfield 47
North 17 16 21 14 – 68
Mayfield 11 7 11 18 – 47
Mayfield (3-1); Michoud 0, Nicolli 2, Rock 8, Edwards 0, Dearden 0, Soucher 2, Kinczel 19, Consolo 11, Peterson 0, O’Neal 5
North (4-0) – C Hamilton 0, Carter 9, Hammond 0, M Hamilton 8, Leo 31, Vajusi 3, Drew 10, Valaitis 5, C Wilson 0, Oostdyk 2, H Wilson 0
FG; Mayfield 19/68 (27%), North 20/61 (32%). FT; Mayfield 5/12 (41%) , North 19/24 (79%). Three pointers; Mayfield 4 (Consolo 1, Kinczel 3), North 9 (Leo 3, Carter, Valaitis, M Hamilton 2, Drew, Vajusi). Rebounds; Mayfield 35, North 41 (Leo 9). Assists; Mayfield 9, North 10 (Valaitis 4)