A total team effort led to the second straight win, 55-40 over the visiting Grimsby Grizzlies, to start the season for the Under-19 Niagara Rangers girls basketball team.
The Rangers starting five made quick work of the Grizzlies, dominating play at both ends of the court. Ava Froese led the way during the first quarter, drawing fouls under the Grimsby basket and draining the corresponding free throws. The Grizzlies only managed one successful free throw and a three-point shot, with the Rangers enjoying a 10-4 lead at the end of the first.
The Rangers defence continuously forced turnovers and translated many of those opportunities into quick baskets. As the third quarter progressed, Niagara had climbed to a 32-point lead over Grimsby, and was on the positive side of a 49-19 score heading into the fourth.
Coach Shawn Pylypiw saw that margin as the perfect time to turn to his bench to spell off his starters.
“We wanted to allow our bench players to get some game time experience,” Pylypiw told The Local. “This being our second game of the season, it was good to see the girls come together and work well as a unit.”
Grimsby began chipping away at the Rangers lead but couldn’t catch up, despite outscoring Niagara 21-6 in the final frame.
“It’s important for me to provide some valuable court experience and to help build their confidence and knowledge,” Pylypiw said, “so that they can be put into the thick of things and believe in themselves and play the game they know how to play and not over think. They communicated well on the court and helped one another when needed.”
Pylypiw credits Jailah Gabbidon and Julia Diemer who took over the primary ball-handling duties off the bench, as well as Morgan Lambert and Sydney Chaves for playing vital minutes with tough, tenacious defense to continue frustrating the Grizzlies.
On the scoreboard, Froese led the way for the Rangers with 20 points in the winning effort. Mikayla Wallace and Kyla Pylypiw each contributed seven.
The Rangers travel to Beamsville District Secondary School Feb. 4 for four games in the Grizzlies Invitational Tournament. Saturday will see them playing at 10:30 a.m. against the Burlington Force, and 4:30 p.m., when they face the Toronto Triple Threat.
Their Sunday, 9 a.m. tipoff is against the Parry Sound Stingray. The start time for their fourth game Sunday is to be determined by where they place after the three games.