GREENFORD-Due to the recent frigid conditions, the South Range girls basketball team received a full week off following it's heartbreaking loss to Springfield. The Raiders made sure the time was put to good use.
After a week of intense practice sessions the Raiders submitted a full night of work against Lisbon on Thursday night, controlling the action from start to finish in a 62-23 win.
South Range improves to 14-2 overall and 10-1 in the Inter-Tri County League upper tier, staying even with Springfield in first place. Lisbon falls to 6-11 and 1-9 ITCL.
"We did a great job of coming out aggressive and staying aggressive tonight," South Range guard Starla Sharp said. "We had a great week of practice and it carried over to tonight."
Sharp led a balanced effort for the Raiders with 20 points, four rebounds and three steals. Sierra Petrella had 11 points and five steals, Ashley Sharp had eight points, four assists and four steals and Sara Durr had six rebounds and four blocks as South Range overwhelmed the Devils right from the opening tip, showing no rust.
"We hated to see a week of games wiped out this late in the year, but it was probably the best thing for us," South Range coach Tony Matisi said. "Knowing there weren't games or school to worry about we were just able to come into the gym for six days and really work hard. We put so much time in defensively and it showed tonight."
The quickness of South Range's five-guard lineup was devastating from the outset, with Jordan Youngs setting the tone. Youngs hounded Lisbon point guard Tiffany Ketchum, holding her scoreless while forcing countless difficult passes, which gave the other guards opportunities to jump the passing lanes. The Raiders forced nine turnovers in the first quarter and raced out to a 17-4 lead.
"Jordan Youngs is a great defensive guard," Matisi said. "Ketchum is a good player and Jordan made it very difficult for her to run the offense.
"We couldn't get any ball movement," Lisbon coach Jason Thompson said. "That was the game right there."
The lead only widened from there as the Raiders continued to stay aggressive until the starters were pulled early in the fourth quarter. Each starter had at least three steals. Lisbon was not within 20 points after midway through the second quarter.
"Our defense created a lot of our offense tonight," Starla Sharp said. "It felt good to come out and give a full effort after a week in the gym."
Karlee Pezzano had 10 points to lead the Blue Devils.
South Range won the jayvee game 49-29. Lynnie Ritter had 14 points for the Raiders. Natalie Esterly had 11 points for Lisbon.
The Beaver Local at South Range game, postponed from last Saturday, will be made up Saturday, Feb. 8, with the jayvee game starting at 1 p.m.
A month of big games looms on the horizon for South Range. Next week will feature visits from United and Crestview-who each gave the Raiders a close game in the prior meetings. State-ranked West Branch is also included as well as the state tournament.
"We were happy to set the tone tonight for what we hope is a great month," Matisi said. "We know there is no room to slip up and I think that is making us focus more."
South Range High School was the site of Lisbon's district championship appearance last year, but the Blue Devils were a far different team on the return trip after losing senior leaders Pam Pierce and Katy Crismon. Six of the eight rotation players for the Blue Devils were freshmen or sophomores.
"We've had a lot of struggles with consistency," Thompson said. "We've been looking for leadership all season long. I'll take blame for a lot of it."
SOUTH RANGE: 17-19-16-10-62
LISBON SCORING: Tiffany Ketchum 0-0-0, Karlee Pezzano 5-0-10, Sarah Boyd 1-0-2, Alli Davis 1-0-2, Taylor Siefke 2-0-4, Emily Steves 0-1-1, Mackenzie Mason 1-1-3, Kylee Culp 0-1-1, Alexa Bell 0-0-0, Jenna Dickson 0-0-0, Natalie Esterly 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 10, 3-9: 23.
SOUTH RANGE SCORING: Morgan Czopur 3-2-9, Jordan Youngs 2-0-4, Starla Sharp 10-0-20, Ashley Sharp 4-0-8, Sierra Petrella 4-3-11, Sara Durr 1-0-2, Kendall Syms 0-0-0, Lynnie Ritter 1-0-2, Marketta Gabriel 1-0-2, Taylor Naples 1-0-2, Kate Yeagley 1-0-2, Mackenzie Schecellhoff 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 28, 5-10: 62.
Three-point goals: South Range 1 (Czopur).