NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – With the South Range Raiders top player under the weather, it was junior guard Sam Patrone that stepped up to carry the South Range Raiders to a hard-fought 51-47 over rival Springfield Thursday night in a key ITCL match up.
Patrone not only led the team in scoring, but she also hit a key three-pointer to give the Raiders a little breathing room in the final minutes of the contest.
The victory gives the Raiders a commanding 4-0 record in the league and a 7-7 mark overall. Springfield drops to 8-4, 2-2 in the league.
After the Raiders had built a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter, the Tigers chipped away at the Raiders advantage, closing to within 2-points with six minutes remaining in the game. But it was two minutes later with the Raiders up by just 5-points, and the Tigers applying pressure defense that Patrone found herself along on the left side of the court. She nailed the three to give the Raiders a 48-40 lead.
“I was like, ‘Well, I’m open, so try to shoot it,’ and I made it,” Patrone explained. “I think it really set the tone for the (rest of) the game. We just pushed through and we got it.”
“I could see the pressure get off of everyone’s shoulders,” Raiders coach Tony Matisi said of the shot. “We just lost a game last Thursday like that. We had a 10 point lead on Mooney with three minutes to go and nobody wanted the ball. So she stepped up. That was big because I was afraid we were going to fritter away a lead again. That was a big shot, the biggest shot of the game.”
The Tigers lost a golden opportunity to come back with missed rebounds in the final minute of the game. Twice the Raiders grabbed rebounds off of missed free throws in the final 30 seconds of the contest, forcing the Tigers to foul the Raiders once again.
On the night, the Raiders held a commanding 39-17 advantage on the boards with the Raider’s Maddy Durkin grabbing 16 while Kate Yeagley had 12. That stat, along with the Tigers only connecting on 12 of 23 free throws doomed the Tigers.
“I thought Kate and Maddy were unbelievable on the boards,” Matisi said. “I think they only got one shot (offensive rebound) all night long… We controlled the boards.”
“You have got to stick a body on somebody, especially at the end when free throws were missed,” Tigers coach Jim Schuler explained. “When you have opportunities with two possessions or less. We were down four points, and we don’t get a crucial defensive rebound then they get extra chances and we put them on the line again. Those are killers.”
After the Tigers held a 13-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Raiders went on a 9-4 run to start the second frame, tying the game at 17 midway through the stanza. When the Raiders Taylor Naples hit a shot from the left side of the key with 2-seconds remaining, the Raiders carried a 24-20 lead into the halftime locker rooms.
The Raiders would build on their lead into the third quarter, reaching a 10-point advantage at the 5:31 mark of the period. But the Tigers would close the quarter outscoring the Raiders 10-5 to make it a 5-point game at 36-31 at the end of the frame.
“We’re getting better, but it’s taking way too long,” Matisi said with a chuckle. “We work so hard playing defense and we don’t possess the ball that well after we work so hard. It’s just a learning experience and it’s taking awhile.”
Patrone would collect 16 points to lead the Raiders while Taylor Naples added an additional 12 points. Maddy Durkin and Bri Modic chipped in with 8 points.
Matisi admitted that Durkin, despite her 8 points and 16 rebounds, was not healthy on the night.
“She was under the weather tonight. She was throwing up before the game and she was drained out there. But she worked the boards hard.”
The Tigers were led by Haley LaMorticella with 12 points, while both Nicole Bovo and Mariah Johnson gave the Tigers some spark off of the bench with each scoring 7 points. LaMorticella and Marlee Applegarth each had 4 rebounds to pace the Tigers.
“The fact that we’re not giving in and we’re competitive, despite some of our shortcomings or weaknesses with some of the rebounds and things like free throws, we got our chances to score and possibly win the game. We have to keep getting better, keep going to practice and grow. That’s what we will do,” Schuler concluded.