NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Think North Ridgeville’s 66-55 win over Avon wasn’t a big one for the Rangers?
Better think again.
Not only had North Ridgeville’s seniors never defeated Avon in their high school careers, the Rangers had never won a West Shore Conference game — home or away — during Coach Bryan Morgan’s short tenure and hadn’t done so since 2011.
Both of those skids came to a crashing halt Tuesday night, however, thanks to a fantastic shooting performance (58 percent from the floor), a well-rounded offensive effort (three players in double figures) and some solid defense when it mattered.
The Rangers improved to 2-2, 1-1 in the league, while Avon falls to 0-2, 0-2.
“It’s been a long drought for us,” Morgan said. “So this was a big one.
“After our loss against Midview on Friday night, it put a pretty sour taste in our mouth. This kind of helps wash that sour taste away.”
Senior forward Dennis Millgard led the way with 14 points — 12 in the second half — while senior point guard Matt Clark and sophomore guard Demario McCall each added 11 points. Clark went 3-of-4 from 3-point range, while McCall went 5-of-7 from the floor.
“It was really exciting to get our first win on our home court in a while,” said Millgard, who shot 7-of-13 from the floor and helped the Rangers put away Avon in the second half. “It really felt good. We played really well. We played good defense. Overall, it was just a really good game.”
A pair of runs stood out Tuesday night. The first one, a 7-0 run, opened the game for the Rangers on a 3-pointer from Clark, a putback from center Nolan Freeman (eight points, nine rebounds) and another putback from Millgard.
It gave Ridgeville a cushion that Avon couldn’t overcome.
The second one was an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter. With Ridgeville nursing a 48-43 lead after three quarters, it put the game away with six points from reserve Nathan Colbert (eight points overall) and fast-break layup from Millgard. That put Ridgeville up 56-43, and Avon never cut the deficit under nine points after that.
“That’s something we work on in practice,” Morgan said. “We do drills where we’ve got to get three stops with three scores at the other end to mimic a run. Last year, our runs were four or six points at a time. We’ve got some guys who can put the ball in hole, and I thought our defense has played very well over these first four games.
“The play of Demario McCall on the defensive end … Brian Kelly’s a great basketball player, but Demario did a great job of making sure he didn’t get off at all and catch fire.”
“North Ridgeville played very well,” Avon coach Kevin Sapara said. “They outplayed us. They outrebounded us. We had a lot of turnovers that hurt us, and against a team like them, you can’t come into their house and come out flat.
“They led from start to finish, and it’s hard to fight from behind against a team at home that’s playing well. They have some great players who shot the ball extremely well, and our defense was poor. We’re going to have to keep working and get better at that.”
North Ridgeville made 28 of 48 shots – 6-of-16 on 3-pointers. In the decisive fourth quarter, the Rangers went 8-for-10 from the floor.
Dan Durrin scored 13, while Kelly and sophomore Jeff Laraway added 11 apiece for Avon. Kelly shot just 4-of-18 from the floor and 2-of-5 from the free-throw line.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Ridgeville 66, Avon 55
AVON (55): Dan Durrin 5-0-13, Brian Kelly 4-2-11, Jeff Laraway 3-4-11, Jordan Lawrence 2-0-4, Austin Proudfit 1-0-2, Michael Smigel 3-0-9, Johnny Peganoff 1-1-3, Chris Maxwell 1-0-2, Brad Sprecher 0-0-0, Alec Warren 0-0-0. Totals 20-7-55.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (66): Dennis Millgard 7-0-14, Matt Clark 3-2-11, Demario McCall 5-1-11, Nolan Freeman 4-0-8, Tyler Arnold 2-0-5, Nathan Colbert 4-0-8, Braylon King 1-1-3, Tyler Rowe 1-0-3, Chad Kisel 1-0-3, Darius Dancy 0-0-0, Jordan Montgomery 0-0-0, Jacob Ruoff 0-0-0, Vince Macy 0-0-0. Totals 28-4-66.
Avon 11 18 14 12 — 55
North Ridgeville 16 17 15 18 — 66
Three-point goals: Avon 8-25 (Durrin 3, Smigel 3, Kelly, Laraway), North Ridgeville 6-16 (Clark 3, Kisel, Rowe, Arnold); Field goals: Avon 20-59 (34 percent), North Ridgeville 28-48 (58 percent); Free throws: Avon 7-15 (47 percent), North Ridgeville 4-10 (40 percent); Rebounds: Avon 30 (Lawrence 10, Laraway 7), North Ridgeville 36 (Freeman 9, Arnold 8); Turnovers: Avon 16, North Ridgeville 22; Fouled out: Durrin.
Junior varsity: North Ridgeville, 44-30.