By CHAD KRISPINSKY
HANOVERTON -- The Ursuline High girls basketball team opened its run in the Division III tournament in impressive fashion, defeating South Range, 77-38, Thursday night at United High School.
The Irish started the game with a 12-0 run and outscored the Raiders 26-5 in the first quarter.
"We got off to a good start," Ursuline coach Sean Durkin said. "We've had a lot of success down here, and our kids feel real comfortable here."
Ursuline forced 20 first-half turnovers and led 49-13 at halftime.
"I was happy to see that things clicked early," Durkin said. "Whenever you force that many turnovers in a quarter, the opposing team is going to be in a little bit of trouble."
Played better later
South Range settled down and had just six turnovers in the last two quarters.
"I was happy with the effort," Durkin said.
"To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed in the execution aspect. It's hard to get kids to understand that when you're winning pretty handily.
"We don't want to get bad habits. We played real hard, and I think our speed was something that South Range just wasn't used to seeing."
South Range shot just 16-for-47 and seemed to have few answers for the Irish.
"They are the No. 1 seed. Our girls came in here knowing that," Raiders coach Brad Porinchak said.
"I think they got a little nervous. We came back a little stronger in the second half."
Senior Christina Cook led Ursuline's balanced attack with 16 points.
Tyra Grant added 15, while Vanessa Dickson and Cierra Bennett each had 12.
"We just came out strong defensively and played hard," Cook said. "We wanted to play our game that we have been playing all year with strong defense and we're so athletic and we have a great program. I believe in it."
Durkin knows he can turn to Cook if the offense begins to sputter.
"Christina is a senior, and she has been here before," he said. "When we did bog down a little bit offensively, she seemed to step it up a little bit. We got her the ball in the paint, and her athleticism let us score."
South Range senior Kelly James had 14 points, while Jessie Clayton scored nine in the loss.
Ursuline senior Camella Barnette had seven rebounds as the Irish out-rebounded the Raiders 26-21. Ursuline shot 35-for-67 from the field.