VERMILION — Anyone who came to the Vermilion-North Ridgeville game Friday night expecting a wide-open, high-scoring affair had to be disappointed.
On the other hand, anyone expecting a tough, physical defensive struggle had to leave feeling pretty satisfied.
Well, at least the ones cheering for North Ridgeville, anyway.
The Rangers gained the upper hand in the fourth quarter of the physical battle for West Shore Conference supremacy and came away with a 47-34 win to stay unbeaten in the league at 5-0 and improve to 7-2 overall.
The Sailors (6-3, 3-2) had a chance to pull even with the defending WSC champions with a win, but instead fell two games behind in the league race.
Vermilion held a 16-15 halftime lead, but North Ridgeville coach Bill Noggle had the Rangers start the second half in a zone defense that shut down the Sailors’ inside game and forced them to take outside shots.
A lot of which didn’t fall.
“We knew they would use the zone and we prepared for it,” Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl said. “I thought we played well in the first half. I thought we were extremely effective. We were rebounding and making our shots.
“But the biggest problem was that in the second half we just stayed outside and passed the ball around. It was just a matter of us not hitting our shots. They made some shots late because we had to trap and get out of our man defense. But it was just a matter of us hitting our shots and we just didn’t do it tonight. That’s the game of basketball. Sometimes that happens.”
Once again it was the role players stepping up and helping the Rangers.
Playing without starting guard Danny Montgomery, Noggle was quick to point out how well Jake Rigsby handled the job both offensively and defensively.
With Ridgeville up 28-25 heading into the fourth quarter, Rigsby buried a 3-pointer and Drew McGhee hit another shot to give the Rangers a quick eight-point lead.
McGhee complimented Vermilion’s Derek Hoebing for his strong, physical play under the boards.
“He’s a big kid,” said the Rangers’ 6-0foot-11 senior center. “They have a lot of big kids. I don’t have any bruises now, but maybe tomorrow I will.”
McGhee started slowly for the Rangers, scoring only two points in the first half, but came back to finish with 13.
“We knew it was going to be a tough, physical game and we had the fact that we came here and won the championship last year going against us,” McGhee said. “I came out a little nervous because it was a big game and missed four free throws and couldn’t hang on to the ball, but we came into the locker room and I was able to settle down.”
Keene Cockburn led the Rangers with 17 points, while Tim Clark led the Sailors with 11.
“Keene not only came through offensively, but pulled down a lot of big rebounds tonight,” Noggle said. “He really stepped up.”
Cockburn was happy with his performance, but was much more satisfied with the standings.
“I feel great tonight,” he said. “This was a big win for us because it puts us two games ahead of everybody in the conference. We knew that they would play a physical game so we knew we would have to come out and play physical too.”
Neither team was sharp at the free throw line with the Rangers making 8-of-18 (40 percent) and Vermilion 9-of-14 (61 percent). The Sailors hit only 1 of 10 3-pointers while North Ridgeville was 3-of-7.
“This was a tournament-game atmosphere here tonight,” Noggle said.
Contact Ron Nenadal at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
North Ridgeville 47, Vermilion 34
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (47): Drew McGhee 6-1-13, Keene Cockburn 6-4-17, Dan Montgomery 0-0-0, Jake Rigsby 2-2-7, Nick Rogerson 1-0-2, Zach Wade 0-0-0, Ryan McNamara 2-1-6, Jason Ice 1-0-2, Dominique Qualls 0-0-0, Conor Sullivan 0-0-0, Mark Szylakowski 0-0-0, Madison Hamilton 0-0-0, Robert Michael 0-0-0. Totals 18-8-47.
VERMILION (34): Tim Clark 4-2-11, Justin Turner 3-3-9, Nick Farley 3-0-6, Derek Hoebing 1-2-4, Kyle Herkler 1-0-2, Derek Barbato 0-2-2, Mike Virgin 0-0-0, Dustin Hendricks 0-0-0, Kurt Innes 0-0-0, Joel Turner 0-0-0, Cameron Zima 0-0-0, Cody Timbs 0-0-0. Totals 12-9-34.
N. Ridgeville 10 5 13 19 — 47
Vermilion 10 6 9 9 — 34
Three-point goals: N Ridgeville 3 (Cockburn, Rigsby, McNamara), Vermilion 1(Clark). Rebounds: NR 27 (McGhee 11, Cockburn 8), V 25 (Hoebing 8, Clark 8). Turnovers: NR 16, V 17. Total fouls: NR 11, V 14S.
Junior varsity: Vermilion 62 N Ridgeville 60 (OT)