NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Coming back from an 18-point halftime deficit isn’t as rare as hitting the lottery or starting off the Super Bowl with a safety, but it’s safe to say there were not many people in North Ridgeville’s gym Monday night who would have wagered their lunch money on such a comeback.
However, the Rangers didn’t get the message the game was supposed to be over.
North Ridgeville went on a 17-1 fourth-quarter run with junior Alyssa Riley scoring her team’s final four points to complete a stunning 52-51 win against Firelands in a non-league game.
It was the first loss for the Falcons (14-2) since they fell to Vermilion on the opening night of the season. Firelands led 32-14 at halftime after building a 17-5 lead after one quarter.
North Ridgeville (9-10) pulled out all the stops in the second half, going into an extended zone defense it had never even practiced before. Meanwhile, Rangers coach Amy Esser looked toward the end of her bench and found help in a pair of freshmen, Madison Calvert and Addyson Kerr.
“The mindset for us in the second half was we’ve got nothing to lose so why not try different things,” Esser said. “We’re going to do what it takes to try to win the game and in different situations sometimes different players are better. We went with a different look, hopefully tripped them up a little bit, and it paid off tonight.”
Although there were new names in the rotation it was the familiar faces, Riley and Isabella Pecchia, that provided the bulk of the Rangers offense. Pecchia had a team-high 19 points to go along with 11 rebounds, while Riley added 16 points.
They were a combined 16-of-18 from the free throw line.
“This is a big win,” said Riley, whose two free-throws with 4.8 seconds to play sealed the win. “Once we cut their lead down to about eight points we realized we were still in this game. Our defense was a lot better in the second half and we adjusted our offense and moved the ball around better.”
Senior Kelly Wisniewski hit a 3-pointer with just under six minutes to play in the game that cut the Firelands lead to 47-38. It also proved to be the shot that sparked the Rangers’ rally.
“We played more as a team in the second half and that enabled us to get our offense rolling,” said Wisniewski, who added she was happy to see Riley going to the foul line with the game hanging in the balance.
“She’s the one we go to in practice to sink a free throw so we don’t have to run, so of course we want her shooting with the game on the line,” she said. “Free throws are such a big part of every game. That’s why we practice them so much.”
North Ridgeville was 18-of-22 from the line.
Cassandra Morrissette had a game-high 22 points in a losing effort for Firelands, which committed 27 turnovers.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Firelands coach Dave Kudela said. “We weren’t aggressive enough and we didn’t always make good decisions. Tonight was a non-conference game so it doesn’t hurt us in a quest to win the league. But you still want to win every game and tonight we ran into an excellent North Ridgeville team.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Ridgeville 52, Firelands 51
FIRELANDS (51): Cassandra Morrissette 7-5-22, Alyssa Melendez 0-2-2, Taylor Young 1-0-2, Rebecca Myers 1-0-2, Brandi Holowecky 3-3-9, Haleigh Bari 1-2-4, Heather Smyth 1-0-2, Keely Hall 4-0-8. Totals 18-12-51.
NORTH RIDGEVILLE (52): Kelly Wisniewski 2-2-7, Allie Hollis 1-0-2, Leah Lindak 3-0-6, Isabella Pecchia 5-9-19, Addyson Kerr 1-0-2, Alyssa Riley 4-7-16. Totals 16-18-52.
Firelands 17 15 13 6 — 51
North Ridgeville 5 9 19 19 — 52
Three-point goals: Firelands (Morrissette 3), North Ridgeville (Riley, Wisniewski). Field goals: Firelands 18-48 (37 percent), North Ridgeville 16-55 (29 percent). Free throws: Firelands 12-21 (57 percent), North Ridgeville 18-22 (82 percent). Rebounds: Firelands 44, North Ridgeville 30. Turnovers: Firelands 27, North Ridgeville 13. Total fouls: Firelands 13, North Ridgeville 19.
Junior varsity: North Ridgeville, 34-27