The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 22, 2013

Rangers run to win

Eagles surrender 11-0 spurt to end game

For the Star Beacon

GENEVA — With his team down by five in the fourth quarter of an important Premier Athletic Conference game on Saturday afternoon, North girls coach Paul Force called a timeout. The Rangers then proceeded to run off the final 11 points of the contest to come away with a 51-45 triumph at Geneva.

Force related that his message during the timeout wasn’t a matter of some kind of amazing stratagem. Often, a reminder is all that is needed.

“It was time to remind the girls not to do too much,” he said. “You have to move the ball. It’s not going to be one girl who wins the game. It’s about trusting your teammates and sharing the ball.”

Geneva (4-4, 4-2) had just taken a 45-40 lead when Force called the timeout with 5:43 remaining. Alyssa Scott (9 points, 4 assists) had just hit her team’s third 3-point field goal of the quarter, the other two having been launched by Emily Ball (10 points, 8 rebounds). Lindsey Mayle (14 points, 2 blocks) had gone down to the floor to rebound her shot that was blocked, and from there found Scott on the right side of the floor for her triple.

However, the final minutes belonged to the Rangers (8-0, 5-0). On their second possession following the timeout, Steph Chlad (10 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) found Lynsey Englebrecht (13 points, 4 assists) for a trey. Then after an Eagle miss, Englebrecht assisted on a baseline jumper by Lexi Balausky (10 of her 12 points in the first half) to tie it at 45 with about 3:30 left.

A driving layup by Mayle was nullified by a traveling call, and then Chlad gave North the lead with a floater as she was headed toward the left baseline.

The score stayed at 47-45 until the final minute, when Chlad and Englebrecht each converted a one-and-one. In-between, Geneva missed two free throws.

Prior to Englebrecht’s free throws with 48 seconds to go, the Rangers were able to hold the ball for 1:10 after Stef Crevda (10 boards) rebounded the second of two missed free throws by a teammate.

All told, the Eagles went 0-for-9 from the floor with three turnovers in the final 5:43.

“We had opportunities; we just didn’t knock ’em down,” Geneva coach Nancy Barbo said. “I believe we still got shots. There were layups we missed, there were putbacks we missed, there was a travel on Lindsey that took away the layup.”

The first half contained five alternating streaks of six or more points. After The Rangers led 3-0, the Eagles responded with six straight points. Then North ran off eight, Geneva 11, and then the sides took turns with eight-point streaks. That left the Eagles in the lead, 25-19.

At the half it was 28-24, but the Rangers evened it at 30. The lead then seesawed until 3s by Ball and Scott gave Geneva the 45-40 advantage.

“I’m real proud of the effort in the second half,” Force said. “This is a difficult place to play. They’ve had a lot of success here over the years, and they’re well-coached.

“The way we came out in the second half and got a little momentum — that was exciting to be a part of.”

Force praised Chlad for her defense on Mayle, and pointed out that she is only nine months removed from ACL surgery. The senior was indeed very mobile on both ends of the court.

Though the Rangers hit eight trifectas — one fewer than Geneva — they took many such attempts, and struggled from beyond the arc for much of the contest. Force gave credit to Geneva, but was pleased that his team nailed some big ones at crucial times.

“I do think that our first five have some length to them,” Barbo, who lamented second chances allowed via offensive rebounds, said. “When they use it, it can alter some shots. Maybe that happened a little bit tonight. I would like to think that had something to do with it, but there are also times when teams just have an off night.”

Unlike in Wednesday’s 39-31 defeat at Madison, in which only three girls got on the scoreboard, all five Eagle starters scored at least five points. Geneva used just six players.

“(The 5 starters all scoring) is something we can build on,” Barbo, who hypothesized that her team may have incurred a case of tired legs down the stretch, said. “I’m not going to question our effort tonight whatsoever.”

Statistically, the teams shot almost identically from the floor, with both schools making 16 baskets and Geneva having one more attempt (56-55). The difference was at the foul line, where the Rangers were 11-of-14 as compared to four-of-seven for the Eagles.

“North is a good team,” Barbo said. “They stand alone right now in the conference.”

Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.