By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
PAINESVILLE TOWNSHIP —
Often, a little reminder can be a big help. That was the case on Wednesday at Riverside.
Trailing in the fourth quarter, coach Mike Smith called a timeout and delivered a message to the Madison girls. They didn’t follow through with it immediately, but follow through they did — and it resulted in an important 48-39 overtime win.
“We called a timeout and we reminded them about what we talked about at halftime,” Smith said. “That’s (that) we have to finish. We had a lapse there in the middle of the game — started great and then I think we got a little satisfied. I tried to tell then that this team took Chardon to the wire, this team lost in overtime to Geneva. It’s a good basketball team; they’re not going to hand us anything.
“This (Premier Athletic Conference) this year is going to be wars every night. And so I reminded them we’re in a war now.”
When Smith related that message, the Blue Streaks (5-1, 2-1) were down 33-31 with 4:23 left in regulation. The hole got a bit deeper when Lexi Parsons (10 points) split a pair of free throws and hit a pull-up jumper to extend it to 36-31, and a traveling call gave the Beavers (3-3, 1-3) possession again. But after a missed one-and-one at the 2:48 mark, things turned around.
First, Taylor Bland (15 points, 8 rebounds) sank the front end of a one-and-one. She missed the second attempt, but Dana Appelfeller followed it in.
Following a steal by Julie Gavorski (8 points, 5 thefts), Gavorski scored from the inside to tie it.
Parsons responded with two more free throws, but Abbie Trivisonno came right back with a driving layup to knot it at 38.
Riverside rebounded its own miss, but traveled with 1:04 left, and the Blue Streaks then held the ball for the last shot, but missed.
The extra session was all Madison, as Bland converted two drives, and then Trivisonno (10 points) and Gavorski combined to sink all six free-throw attempts. The Streaks outscored the Beavers 10-1 in the four-minute period.
Bland, in fact, tallied nine of her points from the 6:38 mark of regulation on.
“We missed the front end of a one-and-one,” Riverside coach Brindi Kandel said. “And defensively, we had a couple kids (Parsons and Katie Klingman) playing with four fouls, so we went to the 1-3-1 (zone) and we just had a couple missed drops and let them drive right down the middle.”
With the two players out, Kandel again rotated seven players, two of whom play junior varsity. Another thing that hurt Riverside was its 9-for-21 foul shooting, while Madison went 13-of-19.
“Having four fouls does change the way you play, but we’ve got to dig deep in that situation to get stops, and we didn’t do that,” Kandel said.
“We learned from our Geneva game — a double-overtime loss,” Smith said. “In overtime we talked about execution. And I thought our girls did a great job down the stretch of doing exactly what I asked them.”
“We did a good job on (Bland) the first three quarters, and then in the fourth quarter and overtime, she did a nice job of taking over and going to the basket, and she did a nice job of finishing,” Kandel said. “On players like Taylor, we have to play four quarters plus overtime and keep that from happening, because it really did give them a lift.”
As Smith attested, the Blue Streaks got off to a great start. A 10-0 run provided a 13-3 lead late in the first quarter, and at that point Parsons sat down with her third foul.
But without their leader, the Beavers bounced back with 13 consecutive points for a 16-13 lead. The margin reached six points twice, and didn’t disappear until Madison’s stretch run.
“I thought Erin Fahl did a really nice job (at point guard in Parsons’ absence),” Kandel said. “And the entire group out there-they just battled, and they were working their butts off for rebounds, they were playing solid defense, and they did everything we asked of them. So I was really proud of the effort there in that second quarter.”
The Blue Streaks won the battle of the boards, 43-29, though Klingman (3 blocks) grabbed a game-high nine. The difference was 25-14 after the break.
Melanie Primer had eight boards for the Streaks.
“We don’t have that player that’s going to go off for 30 points,” Smith said. “So we have to do all the little things well. And I thought today we did enough well. And one of them was box out and rebound.”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.