South Range wins sectional showdown

Canfield – The South Range Raiders scored all six points of the overtime session in route to a thrilling 45-39 victory over the Cardinal Mooney Cardinals in District III tournament play Wednesday night. With the victory, the Raiders advance to play Girard Saturday afternoon at South Range with tip off slated for 4pm.

“It feels good,” Matisi said. “We knew at the draw that it was going to be a tough first round game. I never take the bye, I don’t like to get the girls out of a routine, ten day lay-off, but we knew at the draw that they had us beat at their place a month ago. We got lucky and made some steals at the end and it sort of played out how we thought tonight.”

Matisi was referring to a regular season match-up between the Raiders and Cardinals about a month ago. The Raiders won that contest by a 50-47 score.

“They were a little more aggressive than us, especially in the first half,” Cardinals head coach William Ritter said. “They are a very well coached team. Tony Matisi is one of the best in the area. They just do a really nice job, a really nice job.”

The Cardinals committed 21 turnovers in the game, while shooting 13 for 39 from the floor. The Raiders didn’t fare much better as they only hit 14 of 41 from the floor, but their 16 of 28 from the free throw line proved to be the difference in the game.

The Raiders Led by as much as 12-points late in the third quarter when the Raider Morgan Czoper connected on a jumper. But the Cardinals made a strong charge the last eight and a half minutes, cutting the Raiders advantage down to just five at the close of the third quarter at 29-25.

The Cardinals would outpace the Raiders in the fourth stanza 15-10, and eventually tie the game at 39 with 1:07 remaining in the contest. However, in the final ten seconds both teams failed to convert opportunities to win in heroic fashion.

Following a time-out by South Range with ten seconds remaining, the Raiders committed an over-and-back violation, giving the ball back to Cardinal Mooney. However the Cardinals were not able to get a clean shot off themselves and the regulation clock expired.

“We call it a sideline quick, we want Starla (Sharp) to come and get it. We want a two man game with her and Ash. They sagged off of it, so we couldn’t get the two man game we wanted. So we just wanted to kick it into the back court, but they lined up too close,” Raiders coach Tony Matisi explained.

“We kind of put our head down for a second then we realized that hey we still have time. We just got to play hard defense. Try to get it back and try to win it,” Raiders sophomore guard Ashley Sharp remarked. “That’s what we do, we just keep playing hard till the last minute.”

Sharp would go on to make one of the key plays of the game in the overtime period. With just over three minutes remaining in the overtime period, Sharp would steal the ball from the Cardinals Jaclyn Yankle and drive the court before being fouled. She would connect on one of two free throws to give the Raiders a 41-39 lead.

“I knew they were trying to get it to number twenty-three (Yankle), so I was just trying to be in to help most of all. I saw her turn around so I kind of slipped in there and grabbed it and went for it. Nothing really special,” Sharp said.
Yankle would lead the Cardinals with 17-points and 8 rebounds on the night. Jamie DiDomenico would add 9-points, and Renee Santisi came off the bench to contribute 8.

Ashley Sharp led the Raiders with 15-points in the game, while a number of Raiders evenly contributed. Morgan Czoper and Starla Sharp each had 7, while Sierra Petrella and Sara Durr both knocked down 6 points a piece.
The Cardinals close the season with a 10-11 record, while the Raiders move with a 19-3 mark on the season.

Lowell Spencer –

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