An 18-4 advantage in the third quarter Saturday paved the way for a 48-33 victory by Avon girls basketball team over visiting Southwestern Conference rival North Ridgeville.

Avon took a three-point lead into halftime as both teams struggled to find their stride, shooting a combined 15-of-44 in the first two quarters. Starting the second half, Avon’s Alyssa McLellon scored six-straight points, building quick momentum for the Eagles.

McLellon finished with eight points behind only Abby Liber (15 points, seven rebounds). Six other Eagles scored, with two (Alyssa Peganoff and Grace Santee) scoring six points apiece.

“We have a lot of talent on this team and just trying to put it together is something that’s important for us,” Avon coach Meghan Larrick said. “Everyone’s success is going to help us get to that next level. We saw that today.”

Avon (9-4, 6-4 SWC) forced 10 Ranger turnovers, many of which resulted in points, and held North Ridgeville (8-5, 4-5 SWC) to just 2-of-17 shooting from 3-point distance. Rangers starter Leia Smith was held scoreless.

“I think we gassed ourselves in the first half just running around on defense,” North Ridgeville coach Amy Esser said. “By the second half we were just tired and our shots weren’t falling. Heads started going down and it was a compound mistake-after-mistake.”

Leading the Rangers were junior Mady Rosado (eight points, four rebounds and two steals), freshman Laney Rumancik (seven points, three steals) and sophomore Ryan Elbert (five points, three assists and four rebounds).

North Ridgeville outrebounded (27-23) and out-assisted (6-5) Avon, but the Rangers’ 20% shooting mark (2-for-10) in the third quarter put the game out of reach going into the fourth quarter.

“I thought we were tunnel vision today. Completely different from where we were last game against Westlake,” Esser said. “(In that game) we were sharing the ball so well and finding the open person. When our assists numbers are down, we don’t play well.”

This game marked the end of the first trip through the conference. With another nine games apiece against an always tough SWC, both teams are prepping for round two.

“This conference is a challenge every single day. There are no easy games, there’s no break,” Larrick said. “I’m hoping in the second half of the season we’re able to clean up mistakes and finish games off against Avon Lake, Olmsted Falls and Westlake and those teams that are at the top of the conference.”

Avon plays tonight at 7:00 as it travels to Olmsted Falls before coming back home Saturday afternoon against Amherst. North Ridgeville is off until Saturday when it heads to Lakewood for a 1:30 p.m. game.

Contact this reporter at jkopanski@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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