Woodridge girls basketball storms past Roosevelt after slow start

Steve Batko
Correspondent

In a girls basketball matchup of two clubs laden with youth, Woodridge defeated Kent Roosevelt 50-39 Nov. 21

Host Woodridge planted foothold with a firm stomp in both teams’ season opener.

However, this contest didn’t start that way.

Kent jumped out to a commanding first quarter lead of 13-5.

The Rough Riders clung onto a slim lead at the half, 19-18, as Woodridge outscored Kent 13-6 in the second period.

Woodridge went on to outscore Kent 32-20 in the second half.

.

“As can be expected, we came out with some first-game jitters, but those were erased as we moved into the second quarter and into the second half,” explained Woodridge head coach Chris Nauer.

“This group has been buying in and working extremely hard on the defensive end and that showed against Kent,” he added. “We were very active defensively and this pressure ultimately sparked our offense and helped us take a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter.”

Guard Ari Crockett was held to just one field goal and four points for Kent. Crockett was a second-team All-Suburban League American Conference player in 2019 as a freshman.

Sophomore guard Leah Mencer had a sensational floor game for the Bulldogs as she poured in a game-high 19 points, dished out six assists, had five rebounds, and buried a trio of 3-pointers.

“Leah has one of the highest basketball IQ’s we have seen in some time and she continues to work on her game to better herself as well as her teammates,” noted Nauer.

Mencer converted some big shots – both from the field and at the free throw line - in the second half and was a perfect 8-8 at the charity stripe.

“Her (Mencer) play and decision-making helps make everyone around her better,” the coach said. “She knocked down a few big shots for us in the second half.”

More support came from senior Olivia Woods, who had her usual workmanlike game as she had a huge double-double with 15 points and 14 caroms.

“Olivia continues to be a dominant force around the basket as well as on the boards,” expressed Nauer. “Olivia is not your typical post player; she has the size, but on most possessions, she is the first girl down the floor. That is an excellent combination.”

Defense is what triggered all of the positive work on offense.

“The game was an excellent team defensive effort sparked by Anna Rorrer, Bella Owen, Izzy Best and Kendal Gregory,” pointed out Nauer.

“We are very fortunate to have a group of players that continues to push each other to get better on a daily basis,” he added. “This is a great group of basketball players, but even better individuals.”

Junior forward Emma Stekelenburg and Rorrer, a sophomore guard, each added four points.

Rough Rider forward Kassidy Fischer scored 14 points. Fischer recently signed a national letter of intent to play soccer at Robert Morris University.

The non-league home game scheduled against Tallmadge was postponed and the game will be rescheduled for January 25 at Woodridge. The junior varsity game will be at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity tips off at 7 p.m.

Woodridge will have its inaugural game in the Metro Athletic Conference Dec. 2 at Field. The Bulldogs play a league clash at Ravenna Dec. 5. Both games start at 7 p.m.

Field, 13-10 overall and 8-6 in the PTC Metro in 2019, lost star wing Maria Sziva to graduation along with the Falcon’s other top two scorers in Buzz Kline and Aaliyah Ruppel.

One player the Bulldogs will have to contend with is Field’s all-time rebound leader Kaitlyn Feller, a 5-11 post, who averaged 8.0 points and 12.0 boards in 2019.