Two-time Ohio Ms. Basketball Kierstan Bell was held to 23 points, but the Nordonia Knights girls basketball team still lost 78-48 to Canton McKinley Friday in its season opener as part of the Bulldog Battle at McKinley.

"Last year, I think Bell averaged almost 40 points per game. She has a full ride to Ohio State. And they have great kids who surround her," said Nordonia head coach Julie Buckler. "We tried to slow her down and did a great job against her, but they had another girl step up who scored 18 points who doesn’t typically score that amount."

On Saturday, also as part of the Bulldog Battle, Nordonia lost 58-45 to New Philadelphia.

In the loss to McKinley, the Knights trailed 21-15 after one quarter, 43-25 at halftime and 65-36 after three quarters.

"I was very proud of the fight that my girls gave," said Buckler. "At one point in the second quarter, I think we were down only 23-20. We were right there with McKinley, but then they ended up pulling away late in the first half.

"Even in the second half when things were getting harder and harder, the girls kept fighting. We’re not a very deep team, and we’re very young, so we have a lot of freshmen. Coming into your first high school game, that’s a heck of a game to open up with against McKinley."

Leading the way for Nordonia was sophomore guard Hallie Majoros, who scored 22 points, including four three-pointers.

"Hallie stepped up big time for us," Buckler said. "She knocked down some big shots, kind of took over as a leader at times to get our offense moving."

Sophomore guard/forward Madison Cluse scored nine points.

"Maddie has this dominating ability, and she just kind of took over and took care of the ball," the coach said. "Her points didn’t show that, but there were many intangible things she did."

In the loss to New Philadelphia, Nordonia was down 16-11 after the first quarter, 26-22 at the half and 48-34 after the third quarter.

"We didn’t play the best. We were a little tired, and New Philadelphia just stepped up," Buckler said. "They had girls knocking down threes. I give all the credit in the world to them. They’re a great team and played very well. They just outplayed us.

"We had a lot of lapses in our judgment at times. It was a struggle. It wasn’t quite as energetic as the night before.

"One of our goals for the game was to try to limit their offensive boards. In the first half, we did a better job of that than in the second half. They kind of took over on that end."

Cluse scored 18 points, including a pair of three-pointers.

"Maddie was dominating pretty well on the boards," Buckler said. "She tends to lead our fight on the glass."

Majoros scored nine points, and freshman guard Celine Puscian had seven points.

Nordonia is scheduled to open Suburban League National Conference play at home against Wadsworth Saturday at 2:30 p.m.