NORTH OLMSTED — A memorable performance by Kerri Gasper carried Olmsted Falls to a 49-44 Southwestern Conference win over North Olmsted on Saturday.
The 5-foot-10 junior guard scored 23 points, 10 in the fourth quarter. Her one-woman outburst included eight straight foul shots without a miss under pressure.
Nearly as memorable was the play of the young and inexperienced Eagles, whose 10-0 second-quarter run kept them close at the break.
And after a basket and two foul shots by sophomore guard Hayley Hicks midway through the fourth quarter, North Olmsted had cut the deficit to 37-35. In short, it was another classic battle in the long and feisty rivalry between the two Olmsteds.
The Eagles (0-4, 0-2 SWC) trailed 13-7 early in the second period when they put together their four-player run. By the time they got two field goals each from Hayley Bukala and Erica English, and another basket by Hannah Grablovic, they held a 17-15 lead with just over two minutes left in the half.
“That was exciting, I thought I was going to have a heart attack over there,” Eagles coach Cheryl Bansek said of the 10-0 spurt. “We’re a very young team. We have four seniors on the squad, but only one has varsity experience, and there are three juniors and none of them have varsity experience.
“We play a lot of sophomores and we try to play everybody,” she said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the attitudes and the efforts. We grind it out. We get our hands on balls. I told my team after the game that if the teams on our schedule are going to come in thinking it’s going to be a cakewalk, they’re going to be very surprised.”
The Bulldogs (2-2, 1-1 SWC) carried a 34-29 lead into the final eight minutes, largely on the strength of Gasper’s seven points. But when North Olmsted pulled within two with about 4:30 to play, Gasper went to work.
She was fouled shooting a 3-point shot and made all three free throws. But the Eagles’ Stephanie Kemp made a layup and Hicks hit two foul shots with 3:26 to play and North Olmsted had cut the lead to 40-39.
It was the Eagles high-water mark. The Bulldogs put it out of reach with a 9-2 run that featured a basket and foul shot by Savanajh Black, two free throws by Heather Mueller and four in a row by Gasper for an uncatchable 49-41 lead. Hicks, the Eagles’ slick sophomore, buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to create the final score.
“It got a little bit physical under the basket,” said Black, Falls’ 5-9 junior forward who went against the Eagles’ 6-3 Molly Dailey, 5-10 Grablovic and 5-9 Kemp. “But we had a lot of help side, we were always talking to each other, worked hard and got the job done.”
Gasper said foul shooting is a big part of the Bulldogs’ practice regimen.
“In practice, we spend about a half-hour on free throws alone,” she said. “Then I’ll stay after and shoot like 10 in a row to make sure they’re good shots and I’m OK with it. As a team, we make sure that we make two in a row or three in a row and if you don’t there’s a punishment (pushups, jumps and sprints). That makes you want to make free throws, especially if you have to do pushups.”
Falls coach Matt Fulton said the Bulldogs’ play wasn’t perfect, but they continue to improve.
“In the end, we did enough to get it done,” Fulton said. “It wasn’t our best effort for sure, but they (Eagles) were part of that. They got some shots to fall that normally wouldn’t fall in games and it deflates you as a defense. But Kerri played real well.
“She hit some foul shots there at the end. She had a big night and without her, we might have been in trouble for sure. We need her to score and everyone knows that. We still have some execution issues and we have to do things better, run set plays sharper and crisper. But North Olmsted’s a good team, they’ve got some size inside, two quick guards and they’re hyper-physical. It’s a good win for us.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olmsted Falls 49, North Olmsted 44
OLMSTED FALLS (49): Kara Marshall 2-0-4, Erica Corley 0-0-0, Hannah Hammernen 1-0-2, Kristina Mancini 0-1-1, Kerri Gasper 7-8-23, Marie Jacobs 2-0-4, Melissa Holcomb 1-0-2, Samantha Buck 0-0-0, Heather Mueller 1-2-4, Savanajh Black 4-1-9. Totals 18-12-49.
NORTH OLMSTED (44): Rebekah Groden 0-0-0, Hayley Hicks 6-4-18, Mina Diamantis 0-0-0, Hannah Grablovic 2-0-4, Juiana Kemp 0-0-0, Sarah Lyons 1-2-4, Stephanie Kemp 3-1-7, Molly Dailey 1-0-2, Hayley Bukala 2-0-4, Erica English 2-1-5. Totals 17-8-44.
Olmsted Falls 9 10 15 15 — 49
North Olmsted 6 11 11 15 — 44
Three-point goals: Olmsted Falls 1-5 (Gasper), North Olmsted 2-10 (Hicks). Field goals: Olmsted Falls 18-45 (40 percent), North Olmsted 17-43 (39.5 percent). Free throws: Olmsted Falls 12-15, North Olmsted 8-14. Rebounds: Olmsted Falls 22, North Olmsted 25. Turnovers: Olmsted Falls 18, North Olmsted 19.
Junior varsity: North Olmsted, 29-25.