BAY VILLAGE — At the end of the game, North Ridgeville coach Amy Esser wants the ball in the hands of junior guard Alyssa Riley.
Monday night, Riley showed just why she’s earned her coach’s trust.
Riley went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter on the way to a career-high 21-point performance as the Rangers pulled away late for a 48-37 win at Bay in a West Shore Conference game.
“Alyssa is our go-to girl,” Esser said. “She’s shooting over 80 percent from the free throw line. This game came down to foul shots and making clutch ones. Having the ball in Alyssa’s hand at the end of the game is what we want and we executed that well.”
North Ridgeville (8-7, 4-3) turned on its pressure defense and outscored the Rockets 31-15 in the second half, but the case could be made that the game was decided at the line.
The Rangers connected on 80 percent of its foul shots (16-of-20), while Bay made just three of 10.
Two of the Rockets’ fourth-quarter foul shots resulted in violations after entirely missing the rim.
“I work on my free throws a lot and if we miss one in practice we have to run, so it’s definitely a big part of our game,” said
Riley, whose previous career-high was 19 points earlier this season at Vermilion. “I’ve been in a lot of tight situations before so I don’t really feel too much pressure when I go to the line. And I also know if I miss I have the rest of my team behind me to pick me up.”
In the first half it looked like the Rockets (3-11, 1-7) would break their losing streak, which grew to five games, as they shot out to a 20-12 lead. Senior Rachel Jerome made three 3-pointers in the first 11 minutes on her way to a team-high 11 points.
Bay took a 22-17 into the half.
“I told the team at halftime that they already played the worst part of the basketball game and we were going uphill from that point,” Esser said. “And they responded and came on in the second half ready to play.”
Senior Isabella Pecchia scored 15 points and grabbed nine for the Rangers, who have won five of their last seven.
“We controlled our tempo better in the second half,” Pecchia said. “We got the ball down to me on the post and I was able to kick it out to my teammates who were open for jumpers. We really needed this win tonight. We have some tough conference games coming up so we have to keep our momentum going.”
The tide turned for North Ridgeville in the final four minutes of the third quarter when it went on a 12-4 run that was set up by a number of Bay turnovers in its own backcourt and a technical foul on Rockets sophomore guard Lauren Heldt.
“In the first half I felt like I needed to pick up the pace and help my team,” Riley said. “When we all got going you see what happened.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
North Ridgeville 48, Bay 37
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (48): Sami Shaw 1-0-2, Kelly Wisniewski 2-0-5, Allie Hollis 1-2-5, Isabella Pecchia 6-3-15, Alyssa Riley 4-11-21. Totals 14-16-48.
BAY (37): Aubrey Rohlke 1-1-3, Rachel Jerome 4-0-11, Lauren Heldt 2-0-5, Laura Wilson 2-2-6, Maddie Holmes 2-0-5, Nora Ziebarth 1-0-2, Ellen Hanna 1-0-2, Rachel Lenarth 1-0-3. Totals 14-3-37.
North Ridgeville 7 10 15 16 — 48
Bay 11 11 9 6 — 37
Three-point goals: North Ridgeville (Riley 2, Hollis, Wisniewski), Bay (Jerome 3, Heldt, Holmes, Lenarth). Field goals: North Ridgeville 14-41 (34 percent), Bay 14-45 (31 percent). Free throws: North Ridgeville 16-20 (80 percent), Bay 3-10 (30 percent). Rebounds: North Ridgeville 30, Bay 34. Turnovers: North Ridgeville 13, Bay 17. Total fouls: North Ridgeville14, Bay 13.
Junior varsity: Bay, 37-30