Raiders’ star scores 26 on special day as team advances
CUYAHOGA FALLS — They’re right back where they left off.
The South Range girls basketball team is back in the regional final for the second straight season after a 51-44 victory over Warrensville Heights in a Division III Regional semifinal Tuesday.
“Warrensville Heights is as athletic of a team that we’ve come across, and our girls played so hard,” Raiders coach Jeff Fishel said. “They’re fun to watch. They play fun basketball, and I’m awful proud of how our girls met the challenge and executed down the stretch.”
For South Range, the party was there, all they needed was the cake.
Senior Izzy Lamparty took to the court on her birthday, lighting it up with a 26-point performance.
“This is the most memorable birthday I think I’ve ever had,” Lamparty said. “I’m really glad because it obviously would have sucked if we would have lost, so I’m really excited that we got this one tonight.”
South Range came out of the gates blazing, holding a 19-9 lead after the first frame. The Tigers switched over to a 2-3 zone defense, which put the pressure back on the Raiders and allowed Warrensville to creep back into the game, closing the gap to a 26-25 lead at the half.
“I thought it was important to get a good start, and then you know they switched us on, which gave us some problems,” Fishel said.
“We’ve been struggling against zone a little bit lately, and then in the third quarter we were able to hit some shots and stretch that thing out, and they hit some shots and got back into it. It was a fun basketball game.”
The second half became a game of runs as South Range would pull away for a bit, then the Tigers would close the gap. Warrensville Heights briefly held the lead in the third quarter, but it was quickly reclaimed by the Raiders.
By the fourth quarter, South Range’s advantage in the depth department was apparent as the seven-player rotation for Warrensville was beginning to slow down.
Lexi Giles, who helped ice the game in the fourth quarter by sinking four free throws, finished the game with 14 points.
Defense played a huge factor for South Range as the Raiders were able to hold the Tigers’ leading scorer, Jade Salters, to 11 points.
“Well, we had Mallory Vidman on her all game and Mallory is our unsung hero because of what she brings to the table for us, and it doesn’t show up in a statbook” Fishel said. “For her to hold Salters eight points under her average, that’s like scoring eight points for us and that’s huge in a game like this.”
After last season’s regional final loss to Elyria Catholic, instead of shedding tears due to the season-ending loss, Lamparty was just more motivated to get back to the regional final once again.
“It feels great,” she said. “I knew that we would we would make it this year, and I’m really proud of my team.”
The party for the Raiders continues on Saturday as they return to Cuyahoga Falls High School to face the winner of Garfield and Apple Creek Waynedale at 1:30 p.m.
“Either one of those teams are gonna present a tough matchup for us,” Fishel said. “We’re gonna have to execute defensively and play as hard as we’ve ever played on Saturday if we want to make it down to Dayton.”