The Nordonia girls basketball team inched above the .500 mark at 6-5 in the Suburban League National Conference last Wednesday with a 54-41 win at conference rival Cuyahoga Falls.
On Saturday, the Knights lost 63-45 at home to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary to fall to 9-10 overall.
In the win over Cuyahoga Falls, Nordonia led 12-7 after one quarter, 20-14 at halftime and 31-28 after three quarters before exploding for 23 points in the fourth quarter and cruising to victory.
"Cuyahoga Falls hit some big shots and made some things happen that kept the game close," said Nordonia head coach Julie Buckler. "But then towards the end we were able to start pulling away. We got to the foul line quite a bit in the fourth quarter, which helped us out.
"It wasn’t our best game, but it was one of those games that you can learn from, and the girls can grow from the experience."
Leading the way for Nordonia was senior guard Sion Williams, who scored 15 points.
"That was probably Sion’s best game of the season," said Buckler. "She did a great job of finding gaps in the defense and attacking and finishing, including towards the end that helped us pull away. She got to the foul line a few times, too."
Sophomore guard Hallie Majoros scored 12 points, including two three-pointers.
"Hallie had a tough job of guarding Cuyahoga Falls’ top player [Chelsea Huffman]," the coach said. "This girl had been scoring in the 20s and 30s, and Hallie was able to hold her to seven points. So it wasn’t necessarily Hallie’s scoring, it was her defense. She’s stepped up defensively lately."
Sophomore guard/forward Madison Cluse scored 13 points, and junior guard Dominique Evans had nine points.
"Maddy and Dominique were the ones who knocked in some of the free throws for us," said Buckler. "They stepped up towards the end when we needed them to and helped us pull away."
In the loss to St. Vincent-St. Mary, Nordonia got off to a slow start and was down 20-5 after the first quarter. The Knights trailed 34-14 at the half and 47-31 after the third quarter.
"The first quarter was just our killer. We struggled to score. We had numerous opportunities, but we just couldn’t finish them," said Buckler. "It’s hard to dig yourself out of a 15-point deficit against a good team.
"St. Vincent-St. Mary transitioned well and got offensive rebounds in that first quarter. After that, we kind of figured out, ‘Oh, we can actually compete here.’ You take away that first quarter and it’s a three-point game.
"I was very proud of the effort and intensity that were put forward by our girls. You would’ve thought it was a much closer game."
Cluse led the way with 22 points, including 8-of-9 from the free throw line, and eight rebounds.
"After that first quarter, Maddy was able to attack the basket and create things for herself and for her teammates," Buckler said.
Majoros scored 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers, and Evans chipped in with eight points, including 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
"Hallie had a great defensive game, limiting one of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s top scorers," said Buckler. "She didn’t get as many shots up as she typically does, but she crashed the offensive boards and did a great job of making things happen.
"Dominique and Maddy had some of the toughest jobs defensively because St. Vincent-St. Mary had quite a few post players who were hard to defend. They were definitely the taller team. But Dominique and Maddy stepped up against their post play."
Nordonia is scheduled to host North Royalton Wednesday and Hudson next Monday. Both are National Conference games and are set to tip off at 7:30 p.m.