KENT: Kent Roosevelt came up with the hustle plays when it counted, and the host Rough Riders tacked on another Portage Trail Conference win with a 60-50 victory over Norton on Thursday night.
The Rough Riders, leading by five with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, came up with back-to-back-to-back hustle plays, just as they’ve done all season.
The first came from junior Alex Marsinek, who after a quick Roosevelt shot despite the five-point advantage and time winding down, corralled the rebound and scored on a put-back to stretch Roosevelt’s lead to 55-48.
After a Norton miss, junior Brianna Rock and senior Megan Thomas each came down with offensive rebounds. Thomas was eventually fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws.
At the other end, senior Justina Fortson put the finishing touches on a Panthers’ comeback attempt, drawing a charge with slightly more than a minute remaining.
Three hustle plays at the crucial moments of the game — that kind of result has been common for the Rough Riders (7-5, 5-1 PTC) this season.
“The reason we won the game was the little things,” Roosevelt coach Craig Foreman said. “We do a great job in the fourth quarter, sticking together and doing the little things — hustling, taking the charge, controlling the ball. This group’s resilient that way. They pride themselves on that.”
Rock scored a game-high 19 points that included a 12-point second quarter that spurred the Rough Riders to a double-digit lead. He also had seven rebounds and two steals. Junior Kasey Nielsen added 14 points, four rebounds, three steals and a block. Marsinek finished with 10 points and two steals. Thomas had nine points and 10 rebounds.
The Rough Riders will host Coventry, the only PTC team to beat Roosevelt this season, on Saturday.
Norton (7-6, 3-3) is still recovering from the loss of two key players to season-ending injuries. The inexperience forced into the Panthers’ lineup, especially in defensive rebounding, is showing.
“Boxing out was a factor for us,” Norton coach Brian Miller said. “Rebounding is something you can have a passion for. We’ve got so many young girls, new girls playing varsity. I know we’re going to make mistakes because they’re learning how to play it right.”
The Panthers were led by senior Brooke Robinson, who scored 17 points and had five rebounds.
Miller says without Robinson, the Panthers would “really be in trouble.” But with her at point guard, and the team gaining experience, he thinks his team will be much improved when the postseason arrives.
“They just don’t understand the game yet, being freshman and sophomores,” he said. “But I guarantee you one thing, come tournament time, we’ll be the one team that nobody wants to play because we’ll be ready.”
For Norton, junior Hannah Bergstrom had nine points and four rebounds. Senior Sadie Blackert finished with eight points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.