PAINESVILLE—North dug itself into a deep hole in the second quarter of its Western Reserve Conference game at Riverside and never recovered in a 59-44 setback.
The host Beavers outscored the Rangers in the second quarter, 19-2, to take a 40-21 lead into halftime. North rallied in the second half but their comeback bid fell short in falling to 4-9 overall.
“In the first half, our defense was not locked in all the way and the other part was we gave up 21 in the first quarter, 19 in the second quarter and we only scored two points in the second quarter,” North coach Rob Koelling said. “When you’re getting outscored by 17 in one quarter, your defense really has to step up to help you out.”
North’s game plan involved slowing down Riverside standout Andrew Keller, who finished with a game-high 32 points.
“We wanted to limit Keller’s scoring and we didn’t,” Koelling said. “He got to the basket at will in the first half, scoring 20 points, and we didn’t have an answer for him at the time.”
The Rangers better defended against Keller in the second half but they still weren’t able to generate enough offense to overcome their early deficit.
Aaron Broja and Kyle Randle led the Rangers with 10 points while Evan Liddington contributed with 9, Justin Fair added five and Brian Skolny and Cam Proctor both finished with two points.
Youngsters such as Randle have stepped up for the Rangers in place of several injured players. That has created a spark for the team but there’s also a learning curve involved.
As those players grow into their roles, the future certainly looks bright for the Rangers.
“I think they really bring an edge to the court,” Koelling said. “They don’t back down or shy away; they’re fearless. It doesn’t matter who they’re going against and you can tell by some of the players out there that they have the ability to get ahead of other players based on their defensive grittiness and their tenacity. That’s what I love about those guys stepping on the floor”
Riverside 59, North 44
North: Duleba 6, Liddington 9, Fair 5, Broja 10, Skolny 2, Randle 10, Proctor 2
Riverside (5-7, 3-4 WRC): Wojkowski 7, Keller 32, Ferrone 8, Watson 4, Stephens 5, Spiesman 1, Wolf 2
North 19 2 9 14 — 44
Riverside 21 19 12 7 — 59
Free throws: North 14 of 20, Riverside 18 of 29; 3-pointers: North 2 (Liddington, Randle), Riverside 1 (Stephens); Rebounds: Riverside 40 (Keller 13); Assists: Riverside 8 (Wojkowski, Keller 3)