MACEDONIA: The final 22.6 seconds of the Nordonia girls basketball game with Revere on Saturday belonged to Brandy Merritt.
Merritt, a 5-foot-3 junior guard for host Nordonia, was quite busy during those closing seconds of overtime. First, Merritt put together a 3-point play with a layup and a free throw. Second, was a block. And finally, she made 1-of-2 free throws with 1.7 seconds on the clock to clinch a 49-47 victory for Nordonia.
The result gives Nordonia and Revere identical records — 10-2 overall and 5-1 in the Suburban League.
“This is a testament to hard work in practice,” Nordonia coach Michael Griffen said. “The girls have done a great job of handling adversity. I think a huge test for us was Ravenna [in the Stow Holiday Classic], when we had to battle back from 12 points down this past weekend with four-and-a-half minutes to go. The girls have been in these situations before. They sucked it up and played great defense. We still gave 32 points to very good players in [sophomores] Caitlin Vari and Camryn Brown, but they played very physical. We rebounded when we needed to and got stops when we needed to.”
Nordonia topped Ravenna 70-61 last week and benefitted from a 3-pointer at the buzzer from sophomore Holly Groff to force overtime.
Merritt scored five of her 10 points in overtime Saturday, and also had four rebounds and three steals. Senior Morgan Mitchell led the Knights with 12 points and four rebounds.
“I had to stop the ball and I couldn’t let them score anymore because I had to hold the rope for my team and guard whoever I had to guard out there,” Merritt said regarding the block. “I got the block and then Morgan got the rebound. I was pretty excited.”
The teams were tied 8-8 after one quarter. Revere led 21-19 at halftime and Nordonia held a 31-28 lead following three quarters.
It was 33-33 midway through the fourth quarter. Nordonia then went on a 6-0 run following a layup and free throw from junior Meghan Reilly, one free throw from sophomore Katie Karalic and two free throws from Merritt.
Revere rallied behind Brown, who scored seven points in the final 1:04 of the fourth quarter. She made two free throws, a 3-pointer and had a steal and a layup, which knotted the score at 42-42 with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
The score remained 42-42 at the end of regulation. Merritt then shined in overtime.
“Both of these girls stepped up big,” Griffen said. “Morgan Mitchell had a couple of buckets early in the second half, which were huge for us. Brandy Merritt had a great second half and overtime, and hit the game-winner. They are tough-minded girls.”
Brown scored 18 points for Revere and Vari scored 14 points. Reilly scored eight points for Nordonia, and junior Kayla Shine and senior Kayla Mislosky both scored five points.
“We just kept our heads in the game,” Mitchell said. “This was a team that we wanted to beat and we could beat. … This was such a close game. Everybody was working so hard. It also puts us second in the league [to Wadsworth].”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.