Andy Harris
Ohio.com correspondent


KENT:The first half of the season has been nothing like the Kent Roosevelt girl’s basketball team would have imagined.



After entering the season as one of the leading contenders in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division in the eyes of many around the league, Roosevelt has ridden a roller coaster of emotions and on-court results to reach the middle of the season at 5-4 overall, 3-2 in PTC play.



Coach Craig Foreman's team has lost big games to Ravenna and Field. However, the Rough Riders managed to battle its way through the losses and the suspension of senior leading scorer Courtney Olesh to edge one game above .500 as it prepares for a two-day holiday tournament at Tallmadge today and Friday.



Olesh was suspended for the first four games of the season for an undisclosed violation of team rules, during which time the Rough Riders went 2-2 as they struggled to shuffle their lineup and find their roles offensively with their senior leader unable to play.



"It was tough, but in a way, it was a great learning experience,” Foreman said. “The girls were hurt and upset, but the way Courtney handled it, she did everything she needed to to address her mistakes and the younger players responded it well.



 



"They saw that even if our senior lading scorer breaks the rules, we have to do something about it and we have to respond as a team."



 



With Olesh back, the path still has not been an easy one for Roosevelt, but back-to-back wins over PTC foe Springfield and non-league opponent Nordonia in dramatic, comeback fashion have done much to bolster the team's energy.



 



The Rough Riders dominated the Spartans on the defensive end and forced 33 turnovers in the a 25-point road win.  The win over Nordonia was marked by the sort of rally that can turn a team's entire season around. After trailing by seven at the end of the first quarter, eight at halftime and 12 at the end of the third quarter, Roosevelt put together a 23-4 run in the fourth quarter to snatch a 57-50 triumph away from the Knights.



 



Sophomore Brianna Rock led Roosevelt with 18 points, as she has done consistently this season with Olesh out of the lineup and after her return, and Olesh chipped in with 10 points and nine rebounds.



 



Winning in dramatic fashion heading into a small span of holiday down time was the perfect prescription for a team that has been up and down thus far.



 



"We're a little bit disappointed at 3-2 (in the PTC)," Foreman admitted. "But Nordonia was an incredible game because it was one of those times where I looked into the players' eyes and they looked back at me and I knew they could get the job done."



 



Wednesday's massive winter storm that blasted Northeast Ohio with several inches of snow and the Christmas holiday have kept the Rough Riders from the practice court much since their big victory, but their return to action will come against a talented Stow team that Foreman called "one of the toughest" squads his team will face all season long.



 



Tallmadge and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy will play in the other game of the tournament's first day, with the winners and losers from the two games playing on Friday in the championship and third-place contests.



 



A successful outing for Roosevelt will likely require a continuation of the balanced scoring attack that began to develop during the first four games as other players stepped up to fill the void created by Olesh's absence.



 



Junior Megan Thomas, who led Roosevelt with 12 points in the win against Springfield, will be counted upon to keep up her pace in the points column alongside Rock and Olesh as the second half of the season unfolds. Libby Bradford will also be part of the interior efforts the Rough Riders will need to compete with the Bulldogs and their PTC opponents in the second round of league play.