By Stefanie Kilnapp
North Olmsted hosted Berea Saturday afternoon and came out with a heartbreaking 59-56 loss to the Braves in a Southwestern Conference showdown.
The game started out sluggish for the Eagles, with missed shots and weak offensive plays. Junior Molly Dailey, North Olmsted’s tallest player standing at 6’3’’ declined to comment but North Olmsted head coach Cheryl Bansek suggests she wasn’t playing up to par.
“Molly Dailey started out very slow today, the pressure and that type of stuff bothered her.” She said.
At halftime, the game was at a standstill, tied at 26-26. With the chance for both teams to redeem themselves, the game became intense. With no advantage visible, The Eagles (6-6, 2-4 in the SWC) and Braves kept scoring at the same pace, keeping little to no gap on the scoreboard. The downfall of the Eagles came when the Braves stepped up their offense and their defense became invasive. It was clear that the defining cost of the game was in fact the fouls committed by North Olmsted giving Berea the opportunity for many free throws.
“We got into foul trouble early and they went to the line and made free throws and a very young group kept themselves in the game,” Bansek said. “We’ll take a few fouls putting on full court pressure. It’s the other fouls that we can’t get, cause that puts us in a situation where we have key players on the bench and we don’t want that.”
According to North Olmsted’s players and coaches, keeping the Braves off the foul line could have given the Eagles a victory.
“The foul trouble (was the problem),” said senior guard Hailey Reines.
“They made most of their foul shots, while we made a lot less,” senior forward Michelle Palange added. “I think it’s some fault in the refs, but also definitely some players fault. We have to watch ourselves, and make sure we don’t go for balls we know we’re not going to get.
“We run the floor really well, we’re fast and we can get past most defenses like that.”
“As coaches we know we’re a good team and I think we need more confidence,” Bansek said. “We’re athletic, we’re long and taller than most teams in the league and we’re fast.”
As the team progresses through its season, the Eagles are working through their strengths and weaknesses to create a cohesive team that is persistent and ultimately wins games.
What they finding is that certain aspects are getting in the way of victories.
“Man it’s really hard,” Bansek said. “We’re one of those hot and cold teams. We can play really well on any given night and we can play really poorly. Sometimes we play in-between, so we’re just trying to get to the point where we can play consistently for four quarters, so we can look forward to every game. Every game is tough for us.”
“We have to play with composure and just learn how to work as a team better,” Reines added. “We all have good skill but we need to put it as a team.”
Foul trouble is the major worry for the team and it is being addressed. so that the amount of fouls will be reduced as the postseason comes nearer.
“We need to communicate better on defense, stop fouling, stop reaching- typical basketball type fouls. We have to help each other get through the screens better by communicating,“ Bansek commented.
The Eagles’ seniors have been showing a positive attitude to the rest of the group, leading by example.
“Our seniors are our leaders,” Bansek said. “We have Michelle Palange in the forward spot, and she brings a lot of intensity to the floor, she’s our leading rebounder. Our two senior guards are Tara Kelly (she leads in points overall with about 13 points per game) and Haley Reines (she averages double digits as well).”
Regarding the areas of improvement Palange replied, “Player-coach interactions and player-player interactions, how we all respond to each other and be able to respect each other and work as a team.”
Hurricane Sandy’s surprisingly heavy affect on Northeastern Ohio takes some of the blame, delaying the time the girls had to build as a team.
“We had a slow start because of the hurricane, that sounds so funny to say,” Bansek chuckled. “You know we missed a slew of practices in a row, because North Olmsted was out of power and we couldn’t practice, so we started out a little behind everyone else in the preseason and the beginning of the season, but I think we’re beginning to gel at the right time. We’re pleased overall.”