NORTH ROYALTON — Westlake had cut off North Royalton’s head in the second half, but like a hydra two more took its place.
After Julianne Lebo scored 14 first-half points, the Demons held her to just four for the rest of the game. But Alison Smolinski and Abby Miduri picked up the slack, combining for 19 second-half points — 12 on a critical 3-point barrage that led to a 66-51 non-conference victory for the Bears on Wednesday evening.
Westlake (12-3) found itself behind from the get-go, taking 2:31 to attempt its first field goal. The Demons opened with turnovers on their first three possessions and committed five in the first six possessions before getting on the board with a free throw at the 4:15 mark.
Westlake committed more turnovers in the first half (13) than North Royalton did for the entire game (11). The Demons finished with 21.
“They are a great defensive team and we were just one step behind tonight the whole game offensively and defensively,” Westlake coach Chip Weiss said. “I’ve got to give credit to North Royalton because they were a factor in that.”
Monica Fury broke the Westlake drought with a layup at 2:07, but North Royalton (14-1) had opened up an 11-3 lead, the first six points by Lebo. She led the Bears with 18.
“Our team crashed the boards well, got it out, got open looks on transition and really pushed the ball up,” Lebo said. “It was helpful penetrating into their defense and drawing fouls.”
Westlake picked up some momentum in the second quarter when it cut the lead to 10 points on Allison Collins’ 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Demons held tight with the Bears and were within eight in the waning minutes of the third quarter. More importantly, Lebo was held scoreless after a big first half.
Then North Royalton unleashed a furry of 3-pointers that buried Westlake. The attention on Lebo left Miduri open for back-to-back threes. Smolinski added one as time expired and then opened the fourth quarter with another, capping a 12-0 run and extending North Royalton’s lead to 58-38.
Miduri finished with 10 points. Smolinski scored 16 and led the Bears with nine rebounds despite battling a stomach virus.
“Abby is a four-year varsity player so she’s been in enough games and definitely has the green light,” North Royalton coach Steffani Cicerchi said. “She’s a great shooter and she can step up and make a big shot. It’s her senior year and she wants to be successful. When she’s not thinking and she’s just shooting she’s money.”
Fury managed to haul in a game-high 11 rebounds and led all scorers with 19 points despite having to routinely post up against 6-foot-1 junior North Royalton center Rachel Fils. Fils was held to four points but grabbed seven rebounds.
“Ever since I was younger I know I’m a shorter post and I’ve always been going up against a lot of taller girls,” said Fury, who’s 5-9. “I just know I’ve just got to get in there. It doesn’t even really matter. I’ve got to get the job done.”
Taylor Hood was the only other Demon in double figures with 10 points.
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
North Royalton 66, Westlake 51
WESTLAKE (51): Monica Fury 6-6-19, Allison Collins 3-0-7, Kelly Laraway 0-2-2, Taylor Hood 3-4-10, Corinne Furci 1-0-2, Rebecca Essig 3-0-6, Mallory Garofolo 1-0-3, Erin O’Neill 1-0-2. Totals 18-12-51.
NORTH ROYALTON (66): Alison Smolinski 6-1-16, Julianne Lebo 6-6-18, Rachel Flis 1-2-4, Abby Miduri 4-0-10, MacKenzi Matthews 3-0-8, Gabby White 2-0-4, Sami Minor 2-0-4, Rachel Smith 1-0-2, Lexi Chuppa 0-0-0, Halle Ezell 0-0-0. Totals 25-9-66.
Westlake 10 16 12 13 — 51
North Royalton 17 19 19 11 — 66
Three-point goals: Westlake 3-18 (Collins, Fury, Garofolo), North Royalton 7-13 (Smolinski 3, Miduri 2, Matthews 2). Field goals: Westlake 18-40 (45 percent), North Royalton 25-52 (48 percent). Free throws: Westlake 12-18 (66 percent), North Royalton 9-11 (81 percent). Rebounds: Westlake 20 (Fury 11), North Royalton 23 (Smolinski 9). Total fouls: Westlake 8, North Royalton 17. Turnovers: Westlake 21, North Royalton 11.
Junior varsity: Westlake, 44-31.