A full-court defense by the Comets forced a number of first-half turnovers and disrupted the Rangers’ shooting game, leading to a 56-49 win Saturday over the tough North Ridgeville team.
The Southwestern Conference victory advanced Amherst to a 4-1 record.
“We feel like we’re experienced. These girls have gone through it now for a year together. They’re starting to figure out how to play together,” said coach Kevin Collins. “Today was a little bit ugly but anytime you play a North Ridgeville team they play really hard. They kept coming at us and wore us down a little bit but we found a way to win.”
North Ridgeville scored first for a small early lead until Sydney Roule sparked her fellow shooters to life. Once Amherst tied the score, the vigorous defense held the Rangers at bay.
Roule sank three baskets in the first quarter. Kamryn Dziak added a three-pointer while Kate Iliff and Jayla Hall tossed in one each. Roule also went four-for-five at the foul line for a 17-9 first quarter lead.
The Comets kept the full-court pressure up into the second quarter. The Rangers rang up 12 points, four as free throws. Dziak scored two more baskets while Hall, Tory Small, and Roule had one each. Dziak went three-of-three from the foul line to put the Comets ahead 30-21 at the half.
The second half began with both teams in a man-to-man defense but defending half court, providing the break North Ridgeville needed to score. The downside for the Rangers was that Amherst matched them shot for shot with two of those beyond the arc by Dziak and Marisa Gillam. Hall hit two foul shots and Ranger Addysen Kerr racked up two while teammate Izzy Geraci had three from the court, Cianna Bright two, and Lauren Milner made one.
Still up 46-33 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Comets went back to the full-court press and North Ridgeville followed suit. The inevitable fouls began to occur — Amherst made seven of 11 from the line; the Rangers went eight of nine. Bright was two of two and Kerr four of five for the Rangers in the period. Each team made three baskets but Kate Iliff got her three pointer for the evening to end the match 56-49.
Roule is continuing her leadership role. She scores when needed but makes certain her teammates have plenty of opportunity.
“She does a good job. She creates her own shots. She does a good job of getting her teammates involved. What we’re trying to do is get a little more balance and spread the ball around,” said Collins.
“We’re shooting the ball really well this year but we’re working to get the girls to not rely on it so much,” he said. “When we’re good is when we drive and kick, and when we get good penetration shots. Those we shot a really high percentage of today. It’s a huge part of our game and they work hard on it, day in and day out.”
Photos by Carl Sullenberger | Amherst News-Times Shooting for two is Kamryn Dziak against the Rangers on Saturday in North Ridgeville. Dziak led her team in scoring with 17 in the 56-49 Southwestern Conference win for the Comets.