HENRIETTA TWP. — North Ridgeville coach Bryan Morgan has been waiting for a fourth quarter like this.
Morgan’s Rangers played virtually mistake-free basketball in the final period to close out a weary Firelands team, 47-41.
The Rangers (5-16) did not turn the ball over in the final period. They only scored 10 points, but held the Falcons (8-12) to eight.
“All season long we’ve been waiting for guys to make some plays at the end of the game,” Morgan said. “We have 11 losses of seven or less points this year, and we finally had some guys do it. Jordan (Montgomery) hit some free throws, we were able to handle the ball, play some defense and did a nice job of making plays at the end of the game to be able to win it.”
Senior point guard Matt Clark scored only three points, but he dished out six assists and kept North Ridgeville balanced on the floor when the Rangers ran their offensive sets.
“That’s what a three-year starting point guard does,” Morgan said of Clark. “Matt has started 60-some games for us in his career and he brings that experience on the floor.”
Clark was happy his team was able to close out a team in the fourth quarter.
“What we did tonight is what we’ve been looking for the whole year,” he said. “We hit our layups and executed our plays at the end of the game. We actually hit some free throws, too. We came in and did what we were supposed to do.”
It would have been understandable if the Falcons would have had an off night against the Rangers. Firelands was coming off an emotional overtime loss to rival Vermilion on Monday night.
The Falcons hung around for most of the game, and actually tied North Ridgeville at 37 with 6:33 left. After that, however, the tired legs became a factor.
Shots Firelands was hitting earlier in the game were coming up short and, defensively, the team looked a step slow as the game wore on.
The Falcons were also missing two rotation players, seniors Logan Sittinger and Dakotah Klingshirn.
“Mentally and physically we were a little exhausted tonight after a tough one last night,” Firelands coach Brett Bartlett said. “We also had two guys hurt, so playing six guys against them was pretty tough. I thought we battled and we gave ourselves a chance, but they beat us to some loose balls, outworked us and outhustled us a little bit.”
Morgan respected how the Falcons competed.
“I give Firelands a lot of credit,” he said. “They came out and played hard after a tough overtime game last night. That says a lot about Coach Bartlett, how well he had them prepared to play tonight.”
Nolan Freeman led the Rangers with 12 points and seven rebounds. Nine North Ridgeville players scored.
James Willbond paced the Falcons with 13 points while freshman Colin Myers led both teams with 12 rebounds.
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Ridgeville 47, Firelands 41
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (47): Matt Clark 1-0-3, Chad Kisel 1-0-3, Dennis Millgard 0-0-0, Jordan Montgomery 1-3-6, Nolan Freeman 6-0-12, Demario McCall 1-1-3, Collin Sullinger 2-0-6, Nathan Colbert 0-2-2, Tyler Arnold 3-1-8, Braylon King 2-0-4. Totals 17-7-47.
FIRELANDS (41): James Willbond 4-1-13, Cole Sklarek 1-0-3, Casey Smith 2-2-7, Jonathan Sigsworth 4-0-8, Colin Myers 4-0-8, Jordan Ruffner 0-2-2, Jack O’Keefe 0-0-0. Totals 15-5-41.
North Ridgeville 14 10 13 10 — 47
Firelands 15 7 11 8 — 41
Three-point goals: North Ridgeville 6-27 (Sullinger 2, Clark, Kisel), Firelands 6-18 (Willbond 4, Sklarek, Smith). Field goals: North Ridgeville 17-47 (36.1 percent), Firelands 15-39 (38.4 percent); Free throws: North Ridgeville 7-15 (46.6 percent), Firelands 5-6 (83.3 percent); Rebounds: North Ridgeville 29 (Freeman 7), Firelands 31 (Myers 12). Turnovers: North Ridgeville 5, Firelands 14. Total fouls: North Ridgeville 12, Firelands 18. Fouled out: None.
Junior varsity: North Ridgeville, 50-38