By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
In their 52-43 loss at Chardon, the Riverside girls let more than one thing get away from them.
For one, there was the speed of the game.
“We definitely let ourselves get sped up tonight from an offensive standpoint,” Riverside coach Brindi Kandel said. “Even when we broke the press, we were taking quick shots. We weren’t running an offense at all. And we’re going to really have to focus on being patient enough to once we break the press, being able to pull it out and look for a good shot out of an offensive set.”
For another, the Beavers (3-2, 1-2 in the Premier Athletic Conference), let Taylor Wawroski get away from them. The senior post got behind the defense a few times, especially in the second half, which especially hurts against a team like the Hilltoppers, who will find the open player.
Wawroski led everyone with 20 points, and also posted game-highs in rebounds (11) and blocked shots (6).
“We weren’t doing a good job rotating on penetration,” Kandel said. “(Kahrin) Spear is very quick, and when she penetrates, she’s an excellent passer. And we were focused on stopping her, and our backside guard was continually not dropping. And Taylor was finishing.”
“I thought (Wawroski) was doing a nice job underneath,” Chardon coach Dave Munson said. “We got some times when we were able to dump it down to her low. She was able to finish.”
Spear, a sophomore, finished with 14 points and five steals, and Lindsey Lyons added 11 points and nine rebounds for the undefeated Hilltoppers (4-0, 3-0).
Post Katie Klingman (2 blocks) led the Beavers with 11 points and tied Megan Tamburiello for the team high with 10 boards. However, Klingman struggled with fouls and left after picking up her fifth with 1:56 left in the contest.
Wawroski, who pulled down seven of her rebounds in the first quarter, also fouled out with about half a minute left.
Klingman’s foul trouble made matters tougher for the Beavers, because they are still missing post Katie Lyden (knee). They are also without starting guard Kortlyn Carr (leg), and rotated just seven players. In fact the three girls they dressed who didn’t start all played in the junior varsity game.
Still, Riverside hung tough. It never pulled even after the Hilltoppers ran off 10 consecutive points for a 10-2 lead, but it did get within two three times. The last two of those occasions came early in the fourth quarter.
Chardon had equaled its biggest lead at the 4:45 mark of the third period when sophomore Morgan Tropf had followed a baseline jumper with a steal and two free throws for a 37-27 advantage. But a 9-1 run, capped by an Abbey Militello follow of her own shot that was blocked, cut it to 38-36.
Militello missed the ensuing free throw, and after each side turned it over twice, Wawroski scored from inside. Klingman then worked her way for a layup to make it 40-38.
The Hilltoppers took over from there, however. Lyons fed Wawroski for a layup, and moments later, Lyons stripped the ball and converted a driving underhand layup for a 44-38 lead.
After a failed possession for each side, Klingman worked another layup. But with less than two minutes left, Wawroski split two foul shots when Klingman fouled out, and then a Wawroski layup and split pairs of free throws by Rachel Tusick and Lyons pushed it out to 49-40 at the 26 second mark.
“(Lack of available depth hurt), but the kids that were in there did a lot of things we needed them to do,” Kandel said. “I’m proud of them for that effort, but not having one of our primary ballhandlers and one of our post players definitely hurts us when we start getting into foul trouble.”
Riverside turned the ball over 26 times, four more than the Hilltoppers. Chardon went to the line twice as many times as the Beavers, but converted only 11 of its 28 attempts.
Lexi Parsons had six assists for Riverside.
“They’re a very talented team and they’re very well-coached,” Munson said. “They’ve got a lot of seniors who have played. We start three sophomores. It was not the prettiest game in the word, but we found a way to come out on the plus side. We’ll take that.”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.