By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
PAINESVILLE TOWNSHIP —
It wasn’t that long ago that the Riverside girls constantly found themselves on the wrong end of a one-sided score. Lakeside has seen that happen this season, but coach Dave Malone can see improvement that has taken place during the campaign.
The improvement can’t come all at once, though, and the Dragons’ 68-29 loss at Riverside provides evidence of that. Although they have reached the point where teams are not so quick to press them, a lot of steps lie ahead.
Meanwhile, the Beavers (10-7, 5-5 in the Premier Athletic Conference), who have turned their program around under coach Brindi Kandel, put forth a fine and well-rounded performance on Saturday afternoon in leading from wire-to-wire.
Lexi Parsons led Riverside with 19 points and added five assists. Katie Klingman scored 10 points and pulled down eight of her 10 rebounds in the first quarter.
“I was happy overall with our defensive and offensive performance,” Kandel said. “I thought everyone did some things well, so it was a really good team win for us.”
Riverside, which had defeated the Dragons (1-18, 0-10) 58-32 at Lakeside on Dec. 15, shot 45.6 percent (26-of-57) from the floor and forced 30 turnovers while committing only 13 miscues itself.
“We wanted to increase the tempo,” Kandel said. “So one of our goals this game was to just defensively pressure as soon as they crossed halfcourt. Any time you can force 30 turnovers, you’re doing a good job defensively.”
“Typically at the beginning of the season, we’d be pressed in the first quarter, and we’d just get annihilated,” Malone said. “So today, and actually four out of the last six games, when we’ve been pressed, we’ve broken it — easily. We’ve mastered getting into the halfcourt set, and now we need to execute a little bit better in the halfcourt set.
“Riverside was very physical and the officials let them play. We (are not where we are) able to manage that type of halfcourt man-to-man pressure. “
Freshman Kristin Keasling led Lakeside with 10 points, and teammate Shelby Smith pulled down 10 rebounds.
“I thought Kristin Keasling played an (italic) awesome (close italic) game,” Malone said. “Really, really stepped up.”
Kortlyn Carr had four assists and four steals for Riverside. Teammate Kirsten Ponsart, who was injured earlier in the season and has not been in the regular rotation, came off the bench in the second half to score 12 points.
“K.P. stepped up with quite a few big shots,” Kandel said. “We know she can shoot. She was injured early on in the year, and it’s good to see her come in, get into the flow and hopefully become a big contributor down the stretch as we finish out.”
The Beavers used an 11-0 string to gain a 15-2 advantage early in the second quarter. Another 11-0 stint surrounding the break pushed it from 24-13 to 35-13. They extended that to a 27-2 run with 16 more consecutive points for a 51-15 bulge in the third period.
Five points into that 16-point streak, Malone was called for a technical for telling an official that he hadn’t heard what he had said. He later related that had served to deflate his team somewhat.
Riverside outscored Lakeside 25-6 in the third quarter.
“Our first half (which ended with the score 28-13) we played good basketball,” Malone said. “We were competitive; we were down by (15). But even at that, we missed some easy shots. We make those shots and it’s even closer.”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.