It was simply too big of a hole for the Nordonia girls basketball team to dig out of.
The third-seeded Knights fell behind 17-6 after one quarter and 33-14 at halftime en route to a 58-50 loss to second-seeded Cleveland Heights Feb. 25 in a Division I district semifinal at Euclid High School.
Nordonia finished the season with an 11-13 record.
"I think it was the nerves that kicked in during the first half," said Knights head coach Julie Buckler. "We just weren’t doing things as well as we normally do. Then, we kind of realized we can play, and in the second half we took over."
The visitors pulled to within 44-31 after three quarters and got as close to the Tigers as six points in the fourth quarter.
"As I told the girls, if we’d have had three more minutes, I think it would’ve been a different outcome," Buckler said.
Leading the way for Nordonia were sophomore guard Hallie Majoros and sophomore guard/forward Madison Cluse.
Majoros scored 21 points, 19 of which came in the second half, while Cluse was a monster with 18 points, 17 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
"Maddy did a little bit of everything. She was just a dominant force," said Buckler. "With Hallie, it’s one of those things where shooters shoot, and she dug herself out in the second half. Once you see one go in, it builds your confidence, and she was able to knock several shots down. She had five threes for us, which were crucial to the run that we made in the second half.
Junior guard Dominique Evans scored six points and had four assists, while freshman guard/forward Kennedy Syllaba scored a point and had six rebounds and two blocked shots.
"All throughout the season, Dominique worked hard on the defensive end and on the offensive end to try to get her teammates the best looks," the coach said. "Kennedy has been consistent with doing little things. In this game, she had to battle some strong post players, and she didn’t back down. She may have only had one point, but those little things she did added up to impact the game."
Guard Sion Williams, Nordonia’s lone senior, pulled down five rebounds and dished out six assists.
"Sion took two charges again," said Buckler. "When it got down to it, she was going to do the little things to help her team get to where we needed to go. Unfortunately, we fell a little short."
The Knights fought through adversity this season, including losing junior guard/forward Lizzie Imrie to a torn ACL during the preseason.
"Hopefully, we had our share of adversity so we can move on, grow and get better," Buckler said. "Lizzie should be back next season. Next year’s team is going to be a fun group to watch."