It was quite a holiday season for the Nordonia girls basketball team.
Highlighted by a 45-30 home win over Suburban League National Conference rival Twinsburg last Saturday, the Knights won five straight games to improve to 8-3 overall and 4-2 in the National Conference.
Nordonia’s other wins were 63-30 at home over conference rival Brecksville-Broadview Heights Dec. 20 and 62-47 over non-league opponent Kenston Dec. 23 at home.
The Knights then beat non-league opponents Amherst Steele 59-51 Dec. 29 and Brunswick 53-48 Dec. 30 to win the Brunswick Holiday Hoops Tournament.
In the win over Twinsburg, Nordonia actually trailed 13-11 after the first quarter and dealt with some foul trouble throughout the opening half. The Knights, however, began righting the ship in the second quarter, outscoring the Tigers 13-5 en route to a 24-18 halftime lead.
“Then we pulled away in the second half,” said Nordonia head coach Julie Buckler, whose team stretched its lead to 38-26 entering the fourth quarter. Buckler is a former assistant under Twinsburg coach Julie Solis.
Junior guard Soleil Barnes led the way for Nordonia with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
Sophomore forward Lizzie Imrie scored 9 points and had 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Against Brecksville-Broadview Heights the Knights dominated from start to finish, leading 14-5 after one quarter, 30-16 at the half and 50-22 after three quarters.
“We pressured Brecksville for most of the game,” Buckler said. “We’re trying to be a focused defensive team. That’s been our mentality this season.”
Barnes scored 15 points and had 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals. Imrie had 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals, while senior guard Sandra Spellman contributed 12 points and 2 rebounds.
In the win over Kenston, Nordonia led 14-8 after the first quarter, 31-21 at halftime and 48-31 after the third quarter.
“That was probably one of our better team games this season,” said Buckler. “Our defense was all pretty much on the same page. It’s a solid Kenston team, but they just didn’t have enough at the end.”
Imrie scored 20 points and had 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.
“Lizzie stepped up big. She got us going on the offensive end,” the coach said. “She was able to handle some pressure and some physicality inside, which kind of led the way for us. You could see it on the defensive end, too, and she was getting some offensive boards, which are hard to come by.”
Freshman forward Madison Cluse had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists, while Barnes had 11 points, 4 boards, 2 assists and 3 steals.
Against Amherst Steele, Nordonia controlled the first half in leading 16-8 after one quarter and 30-13 at the intermission. The Comets cut their deficit to 43-28 after the third quarter before making a game of it in the final period.
“It was kind of a roller-coaster game,” said Buckler. “We started off very strong, but Amherst Steele had a lot of fight in them.
“Our girls played tough. We looked for our pressure defense to give us a spark for our scoring, and it helped get points in transition.”
Imrie scored 19 points and had 8 rebounds, an assist and 2 steals.
Barnes had 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals, while Cluse had 15 points, 4 boards and 2 assists.
In the win over Brunswick, Nordonia jumped out to an 18-13 lead after one quarter but fell behind 29-23 at the half. A 15-0 run in the third quarter, however, sparked the Knights to a 42-36 advantage after three quarters.
“Brunswick has some great shooters,” Buckler said, “But Soleil hit three 3-pointers in a row to get us going on that third-quarter run.”
Barnes had 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals and Imrie totaled 16 points, 8 rebounds and an assist.
“The opportunity came up and Soleil took advantage of it,” said the coach.
Nordonia is scheduled to play at non-league opponent Bedford Jan. 10 at 6:30 p.m. The Knights are set to travel to National Conference rival North Royalton Jan. 13 at 2:30 p.m.