CRESTON — For two years the Ohio High School Athletic Association denied Lake Ridge Academy the chance to compete in the postseason because of recruiting violations.
On Saturday, the Royals would not be denied.
Behind a game-high 14 points from senior Sydney Clark, Lake Ridge won its first district title with a 48-28 victory over Mapleton.
The Royals (22-3) cruised through the field at Norwayne High, winning their three games by an average of 37 points. Lake Ridge was ranked No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll for Division IV.
“We come into every game thinking the other team is 10 times better than us,” Clark said. “No matter what the paper says, no matter what our ranking is we know we have to play as hard as we can. Nothing else matters.”
Mapleton (13-12) was able to frustrate the Royals early on with its zone defense. The Mounties scored the first four points and held Lake Ridge to seven first-quarter points. A Selena Benz jumper, followed by a Monet Saunders layup in the first 90 seconds of the second quarter extended the Royals’ lead to seven. By halftime Lake Ridge had built a 14-point lead.
“Mapleton did a good job early in the game, but as the game went on we were able to run our plays and get good looks at the hoop,” Lake Ridge coach Lisa Medvetz said. “Everyone has to be ready to go this time of year. We bring some freshmen off the bench in crucial situations, but by this time of the season they really aren’t like freshmen anymore.”
As the game wore on Clark and Benz were able to work their way through the Mounties defense and get in position for easy baskets. Benz was the only other player to score in double figures with 11.
Saunders, the 6-foot senior post, caused Mapleton fits with her play in the paint. Although she only scored six points, she had nine rebounds and blocked six shots and altered countless more with her mere presence in the lane.
“This is a good feeling,” Saunders said of winning the district title. “We didn’t have a chance to go for it the past few years so we really left it all on the court tonight. This is the first district championship for our school. It was important to us to bring that trophy back to our school after all of the support everyone has given us.”
It was the first time a Lorain County team won the Division IV Creston district since 1998 when Lorain Catholic defeated East Canton 54-49 in the championship game.
Seniors Kyndall Wellons and Sharday Baines got into early foul trouble but regrouped to score nine and six points, respectively.
Things will get much tougher for the Royals when they face (it’s either No. 2 ranked Berlin Hiland OR No. 6 ranked Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans) in the regional semifinals Thursday at Massilion Perry at 8 p.m.
“We are going to enjoy this win for a while but the coaches are going tonight to scout their game,” Medvetz said. “We just have to get back at it Monday and get ready to play our game no matter who we face. If we run, push the ball and attack the hoop and get to the foul line, we will be fine.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake Ridge 48, Mapleton 28
MAPLETON (28): Sydney Wilder 1-0-2, Jerrica Smith 2-0-4, Allison Frymier 1-1-3, Hannah Krause 2-0-4, Leslie Rogers 1-0-2, Jessie Vance 3-2-9, Shannon Boehm 1-0-2, Shelbi Gregg 0-2-2. Totals 11-5-28.
LAKE RIDGE (48): Selena Benz 5-1-11, Kyndall Wellons 4-1-9, Sharday Baines
3-0-6, Cioyna McIntosh 1-0-2, Sydney Clark 6-2-14, Monet Saunders 3-0-6. Totals 22-4-48.
Mapleton 4 4 13 7 — 28
Lake Ridge 7 15 16 10 — 48
Three-point goals: Mapleton (Vance). Field goals: Mapleton 11-44 (25 percent), Lake Ridge 22-47 (47 percent); Free throws: Mapleton 5-8 (62 percent), Lake Ridge 4-6 (67 percent); Rebounds: Mapleton 33, Lake Ridge 27; Turnovers: Mapleton 17, Lake Ridge 9; Total fouls: Mapleton 10, Lake Ridge 14.