South Range again falls one win short of final four
CUYAHOGA FALLS — As the South Range and Waynedale girls basketball teams warmed up for their Division IV regional championship game Saturday and music blared over the sound system, on press row other music was being played on cell phones.
Michael Stanley Band hits could be heard after the announcement of the death of the northeast Ohio icon.
Some of the song titles seemed apropos for the contest about to take place “in between the lines.”
The Raiders were hoping to “hang tough” and play “just a little bit longer” after losing to Elyria Catholic in last season’s regional semifinal.
But the Bears (24-1) raced to a 21-point first-half lead en route to a 55-41 victory.
South Range (23-4) never led, but gave itself a chance, getting as close as 39-38 midway through the fourth quarter on a drive by Lexi Giles.
Raiders’ coach Jeff Fishel was hoping to see his squad take the outcome “down to the wire.”
“When we were down three points (41-38) we had a couple of looks at 3s that didn’t go in,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re down that much and you fight, you expend so much energy getting back into it that it makes it really tough to get over the hump. We got there; we just didn’t get over the hump.”
That was in large part due to Waynedale’s Brooklyn Troyer, who scored all 18 of her team’s points in the final period to finish with 28 points. Most of her damage was done at the free-throw line as she was 12-for-13 from the stripe in the fourth quarter and 14-for-17 overall.
“She finished strong and they did a good job getting the ball in her hands in transition off our press and we were forced to foul her, either at the basket underneath or when we had to foul in the final minutes,” Fishel said. “But I couldn’t be more proud of our girls.
“Anybody who knows about what we’ve been through this season knows that there’s no give up in these girls. They fought to the bitter end. Things didn’t go our way today, but we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look back on this year.”
South Range lost Gabby Lamparty to a season-ending injury during the season and also lost Izzy Lamparty and Bree Kohler for a long period of time due to injuries.
Waynedale led 13-2 after one quarter thanks to a pair of 3s from Alyssa Geiser and a pair of buckets from Kelsey Wolfe. When Geiser opened the second quarter with back-to-back 3s, it helped the Bears push out to a 29-8 lead.
“They were shooting lights out and we knew we could do that,” Fishel said. “They did it in the first half. When you shoot that well, that’s what happens. You get a big lead. It got us in a funk and we struggled to score the ball. You look up and you’re down 20.
“We called a timeout and said we’ve got to chip into this thing before halftime. We got it down to 13 before halftime and got it to six by the end of the third and believed we could do it. Then we got within one. So we battled as hard as we possibly could. I’m so proud of the fight in these girls.”
Giles and Izzy Lamparty combined for nine points in the second quarter. Kohler scored all four of her points in the third period and Lamparty and Mallory Vidman matched her as the Raiders pulled within 35-31 with :48 left before Waynedale ended the quarter ahead 37-31.
Lamparty’s three-point play and a Giles layup made it 37-36 two minutes into the final quarter. Lamparty’s two free throws got the Raiders within 46-41, but Troyer scored back-to-back buckets on a drive and a layup before tacking on her free throws in the waning minutes as South Range played the foul game.
Lamparty finished with 15 points, Giles scored 12 and Vidman added eight.
Sometimes, “you’ve got to take the time,” to look back on things. For the Raiders, that’s three district final appearances in the past three years, including two regional runner-up finishes.
“We’ve had a lot of success these past several years with this senior class,” Fishel said. “They’ll be missed. Izzy and Bree are four-year starters. Today was Izzy’s 99th game for us and Bree’s 98th. Not many who come through our doors have accomplished what Bree and Izzy have. They’re leaving a legacy here that nobody will ever forget.”