By Doug Chapin
MINERAL RIDGE — Wednesday night’s winners in the Division III girls basketball sectional tournament established control in the first half and remained in firm control as they weathered comeback attempts on their way to a meeting on Saturday.
South Range (13-8) defeated Garrettsville Garfield, 51-43, and fourth-seeded Champion High (18-3) dispatched Newton Falls, 53-38. The Raiders and Golden Flashes meet Saturday night in the sectional final round as the second game of a doubleheader.
Campbell Memorial and LaBrae play in the first game, beginning at 6 p.m.
South Range took a 21-12 halftime lead with the help of a 13-5 second quarter. During the quarter, the Raiders held Garfield (9-12) to two-for-12 shooting from the field.
“After the first quarter we talked about the defense and what we needed to do,” South Range coach Wayne Johnson said. “I think we got a little more in tune to what they were doing and I think we pressured them. When they did get shots off they were contested shots.”
Garfield fought back to within five points on a couple of occasions midway through the third quarter, but South Range responded and led 36-29 at the end of the period. The fourth quarter saw a similar scenario, Garfield pulled within six points midway through the quarter but could get no closer.
“We’ve had trouble holding leads this year and I think we are maturing,” Johnson said. “We’ve only got one senior and we’re learning how to play together and learning how to close games out.”
Gabby Naples scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Raiders. Emily Seman added 10 points and Ellie Stoffer had 12 rebounds.
“I thought we played pretty good. We’ve been playing like every other week because of the snow,” Johnson said. “We haven’t had the multiple games, we last played on Friday night. I was happy to get back on the floor and I thought that we did a good job.”
Haley Knight scored 13 points and Emily Hartman 10 for Garfield.
Sophomore guard Paige Loychick drilled four 3-pointers in the first quarter for Champion on her way to a game-high 24 points. The Flashes, who defeated Newton Falls (7-14) twice during the regular season, took a 14-7 lead after one quarter.
Champion led by as much as 22-9 in the second quarter, before the Tigers closed within 28-23 at halftime. The Champion lead was 36-27 after three quarters and the Flashes scored the first eight points of the final period for a 44-27 lead with 5:32 left to play.
Newton Falls put together a 7-2 run to get within 12, 46-34, but could get no closer.
Haley McAllister added seven points and 12 rebounds to the Golden Flashes’ cause and Mackenzie Kiser scored 10 points.
Newton Falls was led by Jen Bjelac and Angela Giuliano with 11 points apiece.