North Ridgeville Rangers hang on to corral Strongsville Mustangs

EATON TWP. — North Ridgeville and Strongsville each looked like the better team Tuesday evening, at times.

The Rangers dominance in the middle parts of the contest, however, led them to a 64-61 victory despite a strong start and finish from the Mustangs.

Strongsville jumped out to an 8-0 lead, using it’s size advantage down low to take away the inside which allowed them to ring up a quick stretch of easy baskets in the paint.

From that point on, though, North Ridgeville turned the game around. The Rangers opened the second quarter on a 12-1 run, largely due to the scoring duo of Dennis Millgard and Nate Inal (16 and 14 points respectively) and the inspired play of guard Matt Clark.

Clark’s biggest moments came when his team needed them the most. He hit two huge three pointers; one to begin the run in the second and another to push the lead back to four points late in the fourth quarter.

“We were settling for the outside shot too much early on,” North Ridgeville coach Bryan Morgan said. “But once Dennis and Nate began to get into a rythym, the rest of us followed suit. Our offense is built off of reading what the defense gives us.”

More timely scoring for the Rangers came from the bench and Tyler Arnold. The freshman knocked down three 3-pointers which helped clear the paint out a bit for teammates to get better looks inside.

“We want to penetrate to create mismatches, and hitting those longer shots will clear out the lane and allow us to do that,” said Morgan.

For Strongsville, senior guard Kyle Meehan led all scorers with 22, and was followed closely by fellow guard Tom Krokey who had 14. Meehan led the early charge scoring and dishing down low to the likes of Brandon Bailey and John McNeils.

In the final two minutes Meehan twice got the Mustangs to within a basket of tying or taking the lead, but both times North Ridgeville split a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to keep the lead at 3.

Meehan got two good looks in the final seconds to tie but could not get either shot to fall.

“Our bugaboos are always turnovers and not hitting our open looks,” Strongsville coach Joe Lynch said. “Sometimes I wish we could open a game with a deficit, because our defensive intensity early on in games is not where it needs to be.”

The Rangers will move on to face Elyria Saturday night. In the win, Morgan saw a lot of growth compared to earlier in the year.

“We wouldn’t have responded to being down early as well as we did,” he said. “(Meehan) probably would’ve hit about 20 straight shots. Tonight myself and all of our assistant coaches couldn’t be more proud of how this team has come together after a year that has been tough at times.”

@MJournalSports

Last Updated: 2/26/2013 11:58:16 PM EST

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