MACEDONIA — After two tough losses, the Nordonia girls basketball team was desperately hoping to find its stride.
The Lady Knights finally found it — against a team they have completely owned in recent years.
Host Nordonia cruised to a 60-37 victory over Hudson Wednesday evening at Hugh Griffith Memorial Gymnasium.
With the win, the Lady Knights improved to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Suburban League National Conference.
The Lady Explorers, who have not beaten Nordonia in the last four-plus years, dropped to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
The Lady Knights, who suffered a pair of difficult defeats to Wadsworth and Aurora, took it to the Lady Explorers, thanks to their tough defense and talented duo of junior point guard Soleil Barnes and sophomore forward Lizzie Imrie.
"They are two girls who have knowledge of the game, which is hard to find," second-year Nordonia head coach Julie Buckler said. "They want to succeed and they will do whatever it takes to get there."
Barnes, who verbally committed to continue her academic and basketball careers at the University of Toledo, controlled the game with her playmaking skills.
She finished with 17 points and showed exceptional range to go with her attacking, penetrating style.
Thanks to her ability to beat defenders off the dribble, she was able to find open teammates throughout the evening.
Imrie was her usual efficient self with 14 points and 10 rebounds. the 6-foot post player had a knack for being at the right place at the right time and got a number of buckets in the paint.
Hudson, on the other hand, had a plethora of issues.
The Lady Explorers missed open shots and a number of layups.
They also had some costly turnovers that led a number of fast-break points for the Lady Knights.
And of course, Hudson couldn't stay in front of Nordonia's two stars.
"We talked about what we see in practice and in film sessions has to happen on the court," Lady Explorers head coach Dennis Lawler said. "We talked about the two players we had to guard and we didn't guard either of them."
Barnes and Imrie scored 24 points in the first half as Nordonia had a 30-15 lead.
Hudson cut its deficit to 12 (33-21) when freshman center Kate Orazen made 1 of 2 free throws, but the Lady Knights cranked it up a notch and left the Lady Explorers in their rearview mirror.
Nordonia closed the quarter with a 14-3 run to take a commanding 47-24 lead. The Lady Knights didn't look back the rest of the way.
"We're starting to follow the game plan a little more," Buckler said. "We take our lapses here and there. Defense has been our focus. Our pressure helps us in our transition."
Lawler was most disappointed in his team's lack of physical play. At times, since it was behind by a significant margin, Hudson looked a bit timid.
"We need to find the toughness factor," Lawler said. "It has to come from inside their hearts. They played hard, but they got pushed around. We have to get through that and not shy away."
Guard Sandra Spellman, who, along with forward Ariyuan Robinson, are the lone seniors on the team, finished with 10 points for the Lady Knights. Junior guard Sion Williams added 8 points for Nordonia.
"Aryun does the dirty work for us," Buckler said. "It's nice to have two seniors who our freshmen can follow and learn from them."
Junior guard Emma Messina led the Lady Explorers with 12 points and senior forward Lorenza Chiarappa and sophomore guard Audrey Kirkhope-Moss contributed 8 and 7 points, respectively.
The Lady Knights junior varsity team rallied from an 11-1 deficit to earn a 44-25 win.
Nordonia is scheduled to host conference rival Brecksville-Broadview Heights Dec. 13.
Hudson is set to host conference foe North Royalton Saturday at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium. The Lady Explorers are scheduled to entertain Brunswick Monday and conference rival Cuyahoga Falls Dec. 13.
Varsity tip-off for all four games is set for 7:30 p.m.