Division I Playoffs By Joe Ostrica
The North Ridgeville boys basketball team wasn’t supposed to do much in the Division I bracket. Seeded seventh, the Rangers were the favorite to win its first round matchup, but after a 63-61 win over No. 9 Westlake, the Rangers were fortunate to advance to play in round two.
Facing No. 2 seed Elyria in the sectional finals, North Ridgeville shocked hoops fans with an impressive 68-65 victory. The Rangers' next challenge was against No. 3 seed - and Southwestern Conference rival – Olmsted Falls. It took an extra overtime session, but North Ridgeville knocked the Bulldogs out of the tournament with a 63-55 district semifinals victory March 2. The Rangers dominated Olmsted Falls from the opening tip, jumping out to a 21-4 lead after the first quarter. The Bulldogs won the second quarter 11-7, but still trailed by 13 (28-15) at halftime. Olmsted Falls carried that momentum in the second half, outscoring the Rangers 17-4 in the third quarter to tie the game up 32-32 entering the final quarter. Both teams scored 14 points apiece to send the contest into overtime with a tied score of 46-46. North Ridgeville senior Jordan Montgomery turned his game up a notch in the overtime session, totaling 10 points, three rebounds and three steals in the extra period to give the Rangers a 17-9 advantage and 63-55 victory. Montgomery finished the contest with 13 points. Senior Isa Abdul-Alim led all scorers with 21 points, including three 3-pointers. Brian Flangan (10 points, two 3-pointers), Tyler Rowe (eight points, two 3-pointers), Greg Draft (seven points) and Demario McCall (four points) rounded out the scoring for the Rangers. Olmsted Falls was led by Victor Hitterman's 17 points. He also knocked down two 3-pointers for the Bulldogs. Josh Goodwin (15 points, four 3-pointers) and Kevin Meehan (12 points, two 3-pointers) also reached double figures for the Bulldogs. North Ridgeville's spectacular postseason run ended when the Rangers ran into No. 1 seed Lorain in the district finals last Saturday. The 20-3 Titans led by just one in the first quarter (9-8), but an 18-8 second quarter helped Lorain to lead by 11 at halftime on its way to a 58-40 victory. Draft and Montgomery were the only North Ridgeville players to reach double figures, scoring 16 and 10 points, respectively. Collin Sullinger (eight points), Abdul-Alim (four points) and Rowe (two points) rounded out the scoring for the Rangers, who wrap up its season with a 15-10 overall record.
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