NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Somewhere around the midway mark of Tuesday’s non-league game against First Baptist, the Lake Ridge Academy players stumbled upon something that could come in handy in the closing weeks of the season. They found the will to win.
After a lethargic first quarter and a half that found them trailing by a point, the Lions received a tongue lashing from coach Bernie Clark during a timeout with 4:58 to play before intermission and responded to defeat the Sabres, 56-48.
“I just told them, ‘We’re better than we are playing right now. If we go back out and play hard and smart we can win this game,”’ said Clark, whose team improved to 4-13 on the season.
Seniors Andy Hyland and Rob Mason led the Lions’ charge with 19 points each. Hyland also grabbed 11 rebounds.
“We came out soft in the beginning but we started to play hard and good things happened,” Hyland said. “It feels good to get a win.”
Hyland is a soft-spoken player who prefers to let his work on the court speak for itself. He leads the Lions in scoring, rebounding and assists.
“Andy does it all,” Clark said. “He’s a very good basketball player and he leads by example. He could play at a lot of the bigger schools in this area.”
First Baptist (6-13) jumped out to a 12-6 lead with Jon Plog and Colby Hack each hitting early 3-pointers.
Mason single-handedly kept Lake Ridge in the game early on, scoring seven first-quarter points to allow the Lions to retake the lead, 13-12, at the end of the first quarter.
The Sabres were in the unusual position of knowing that, win or lose, Tuesday’s game would be their last of the season. First Baptist is a member of the Ohio Christian School Athletic Association, which began its postseason earlier this week. On Monday, the Sabres lost their opening-round game to the Arts Academy.
However, First Baptist never let that fact affect the play on the court.
The Sabres went on a 13-6 run to open the second half, turning a 27-25 halftime deficit into a 38-33 lead with 3:45 to play in the third period.
Hack led First Baptist with 22 points. Luke Parker (12) and Zac Singletary, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds, were also in double digits.
Junior Matt Plecha’s 3-pointer with 2:48 to play in the third quarter put the Lions back in front 39-38, a lead they would not relinquish. Plecha finished with 10 points.
“We have to build a winning mentality, both to get ready for sectionals, and to build for the future,” Clark said. “We only have four wins, so they are all really important to us. The wins make us mentally tougher.”
The Lions will test that newfound mental toughness Friday night when they travel to Mansfield Christian.
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- Elyria vs. Garfield Heights
- Avon Lake vs. Westlake
- Lorain vs. Collinwood
- Firelands vs. North Ridgeville
- Lake Ridge vs. First Baptist
- Vermilion vs. Rocky River
Lake Ridge 56, First Baptist 48
FIRST BAPTIST (46): Jon Plog 1-0-3, Colby Hack 7-5-22, Luke Parker 5-0-12, Zac Singletary 4-2-11. Totals 17-7-48.
LAKE RIDGE (58): Matt Plecha 4-1-10, Rob Mason 7-4-19, Andrew Hyland 6-5-19, Jay O’Neil 1-0-2, Jimi Seidel 3-0-6. Totals 21-10-56.
First Baptist 12 13 15 8 — 48
Lake Ridge 13 14 18 11 — 56
Three-point goals: First Baptist (Hack 3, Parker 2, Plog, Singletary); Lake Ridge (Hyland 2, Mason, Plecha). Field Goals: First Baptist 17-46 (37 percent); Lake Ridge 21-52 (40 percent). Free Throws: First Baptist 7-12 (58 percent); Lake Ridge 10-15 (67 percent). Rebounds: First Baptist 28; Lake Ridge 31. Turnovers: First Baptist 9; Lake Ridge 3.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.