MEDINA: Firestone might have beaten Cuyahoga Falls 33-24 in a Division I sectional semifinal at Medina High School on Monday night, but it doesn’t mean coach Audley McGill was particularly pleased.
The Falcons (16-7), a team well-versed in getting to the free throw line and shooting a high percentage, made only eight of 28 attempts in a game that Cuyahoga Falls (7-16) slowed down to try to limit Firestone’s offensive weapons.
“Twenty missed foul shots — that’s how I feel,” McGill said. “No concentration, no focus. We can’t play basketball like that. You can win the game, yeah, but we still gotta come back with focus and concentration. We shoot 75 percent as a team.”
Coming out in the first game of the postseason with a high level of energy has been a problem for Firestone in the past.
“We always do that in the first game of the tournament,” McGill said. “We’re not focused where we should be. When it’s tournament time, everybody’s trying to get to Columbus. We’re trying to get the girls to realize that’s what it takes. Focus first, and everything else falls into place.”
Falcons senior guard Imani Scott scored nearly half the team’s points with 15, even with the Black Tigers throwing much of their defense at her. Sophomore Darian Carter finished the game with nine points and senior Brea Forney added seven points and four steals.
Cuyahoga Falls slowed the game down as much as it could, running an open offense and operating in a half-court offense as much as possible. Late in the third quarter, Falls trailed by three, 21-18, before Forney hit a 3-pointer to end the third quarter and made another basket to start the fourth, pushing Firestone’s lead to 26-18. The Falls’ offense couldn’t make up the difference, but coach Joe Nowak was encouraged by the Falls stifling an athletic Falcons offense.
“They have some tremendous offensive weapons and we figured if we could limit those weapons as much as we could, we’d have chances,” Nowak said. “We held a team that scores in the 50s and 60s to the low 30s. Defensively, we couldn’t ask for more.”
Falls senior Mary Messner scored half of her team’s points with 12, including a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter the kept the Black Tigers within striking distance, down 26-21. Carter and Scott then each added quick baskets, pushing Firestone’s lead back up to 30-21.
“We knew to have the best opportunity we were gonna have to establish a slower style of play,” Nowak said. “They have some tremendous offensive weapons and we figured if we could limit those weapons as much as we could, we’d have chances. But we missed a couple foul shots, had some open looks that didn’t fall.”
Firestone moves onto the sectional final, where they’ll face Brunswick Thursday night.
Highland 70, Ellet 35
The Hornets (15-8) jumped all over Ellet (9-13) in the first quarter, taking advantage of their height inside, starting the game with a 16-0 run and cruising from there.
Junior forward AnnaRose Wiencek scored a game-high 16 points and senior Haley Roddy had 12. Ellet senior Brianna Soujourner had a team-high 14 points.
Highland enjoyed a noticeable size advantage inside, and coupled with Ellet’s fast-paced offense, brought down rebounds at a furious pace — on some possessions, five or six offensive rebounds.
Still, the post-game PA announcement that Highland had totaled 80 team rebounds in one game had a couple people re-enter the gym, asking if they had heard it right.
Highland will face Kenmore on Thursday night, the sectional final.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.