NORTH RIDGEVILLE — It was a one-point game after three quarters.
No surprise there. A thriller was expected when backyard rivals Avon and North Ridgeville squared off Wednesday night in a West Shore Conference opener for both.
But the Eagles had a surprise in store. It turned out to be a 19-1 run that started in the final minute of the third quarter and carried through six minutes of the fourth.
The result was Avon’s 57-40 victory and North Ridgeville’s first loss of the season. The Eagles (2-1, 1-0 WSC) bounced back from a weekend loss at Westlake. The Rangers dropped to 2-1, 0-1.
The bottom began to drop out for North Ridgeville when the Eagles’ Mackenzie Meckes and Sierra Davidson scored close-range baskets to end the third quarter. They gave Avon a 36-35 lead going into the final eight minutes.
Then four Avon juniors went to work.
Meckes, who transferred from Magnificat this year, scored 10 of her team-high 12 points in the fourth quarter, Brianna Conroy scored all nine of hers and Davidson scored another basket to finish with 11 points. Regan Betts, with three third-quarter points, scored 10 for the game.
A hint to what went wrong for the Rangers: they held Meckes and Conroy scoreless the first half and allowed the 6-foot-1 Davidson five points. Another problem was North Ridgeville committed 27 turnovers, 13 in the second half, nine in the third quarter.
Speaking of which, Avon coach Meghan Larrick said turnovers hurt her team in the loss to Westlake. The Eagles, who made 13 more in the first half Wednesday night, cut that to seven during the second half.
“Cutting our turnovers has been part of the game plan for each of the three games we’ve played,” Larrick said. “We seem to get frazzled when we have the basketball and get unforced turnovers. We’re going to continue to work on that and grow from it.”
Meckes said she struggled in the first quarter. She said the coaches sat her for a while and she knew she had to pick up her game.
“In the second half, we were up by a point or two and I realized I had to come out strong,” she said. “I had so many turnovers in the first half, I knew I had to step it up.”
Betts said the Eagles worked harder Wednesday than in the loss to Westlake.
“We just wanted it more,” she said. “After a loss like that, everyone in their heart found it and realized we had to (improve). We’re not a team that likes to lose and we’re all about working hard, so we came out for the second half ready to play.”
With sophomore Alyssa Douzos scoring five points, Avon took an 11-8 lead after a quarter. But North Ridgeville senior Kelly Wisniewski drilled a 3-pointer and junior Alyssa Riley added four of her team-high14 points to cut the Rangers’ deficit to 24-22 at the break.
Wisniewski hit another three, giving North Ridgeville a 35-32 lead with 1:15 to play in the third quarter. Fellow senior Isabella Pecchia scored four of her 11 points in the period and the Rangers trailed only 36-35 going into the fourth. Avon won the fourth quarter 21-5.
“I’m proud of the way the girls came out in the second half,” Larrick said. “They played with a lot of heart, took care of the basketball and were able to execute offensively.”
North Ridgeville coach Amy Esser said she was pleased with the way her team played for three quarters.
“Then in the fourth quarter, we had three turnovers in a row, missed a couple bunnies and couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” she said. “When you’re playing against a good team like Avon, they’re going to capitalize and that’s what they did. We found ourselves in a hole and couldn’t get out.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon 57, North Ridgeville 40
AVON (57): Jessica Yurkovich 0-0-0, Payton Mitchell 2-0-4, Alyssa Douzos 3-0-8, Regan Betts 4-2-10, Rachael Poling 0-0-0, Sarah Sprecher 1-0-3, Brianna Conroy 4-1-9, Mackenzie Meckes 5-1-12, Sierra Davidson 5-1-11. Totals 24-5-57.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (40): Sami Shaw 1-0-2, Kelly Wisniewski 2-0-6, Allie Hollis 1-0-2, Leah Lindak 1-1-3, Katie Butcher 0-0-0, Isabella Pecchia 5-1-11, Alyssa Riley 4-4-14, Sam Graham 0-2-2. Totals 14-8-40.
Avon 11 13 12 21 — 57
North Ridgeville 8 14 13 5 — 40
Three-point goals: Avon 4-14 (Douzos 2, Sprecher, Meckes); North Ridgeville 4-16 (Wisniewski 2, Riley 2). Field goals: Avon 27-54 (50 percent); North Ridgeville 14-48 (29.2 percent). Free throws: Avon 5-9; North Ridgeville 8-10. Rebounds: Avon 35; North Ridgeville 40. Turnovers: Avon 20; North Ridgeville 27.