NORWALK, Ohio - Jerry Sigler's toughest challenge last night may have been trying to keep a straight face throughout the first half against Elyria in a Division I regional semifinal.
Northview's longtime coach couldn't have predicted what took place during the first 16 minutes of the game. Sigler expected a close contest, but the Wildcats showed they had significantly different plans in mind.
Northview delivered a near flawless first half and handed Elyria a 60-33 drubbing at Norwalk High.
The Wildcats jumped ahead of the Pioneers early - they led 39-11 by halftime - and never looked back.
The near-perfect first half caught Sigler by surprise. It will definitely be a half long remembered.
"In my 30 years of coaching at Northview I've never had a team play that well in the first half," Sigler said. "It was a total team effort."
Northview (24-1) will face Findlay in the regional final here Friday night.
Carlee Roethlisberger poured in a game-high 26 points and Allie Niekamp added 17 to lead Findlay to a decisive 50-30 win over North Royalton in a game attended by Roethlisberger's brother, Ben, the Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback.
"We played a very good and athletic North Royalton team," Findlay coach Connie Lyon said. "I was really pleased with our defense."
In the opening game the Wildcats' frontcourt of Niki McCoy, Riana Miller and Lisa Johnson led the charge. Johnson pumped in a game-high 18 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds, while Miller chipped in with 17 points and five boards. McCoy came through with 11 points, six assists and four steals.
Johnson, who scored 12 points by halftime, said the Wildcats went into the game against the Pioneers (22-2) with plenty to prove.
"Again, no one even expected us to be here in the first place," she said.
"I think that was an awesome first half. Our passing was awesome."
McCoy, the only starter back from last season's 26-1 team, was at the forefront of the Wildcats' unselfish play. She recorded three of her assists during the opening quarter that concluded with Northview on top 18-5.
"I knew we needed to play a great team game," McCoy said.
On their way to advancing to the state semifinals a year ago the Wildcats knocked off Parma Padua by 53 points in a regional semifinal.
This time the Wildcats settled for a 27-point blowout of a team that had lost just once all season.
"We thought it was going to be a lot closer than it was," said Miller, who scored 11 of her points in the first half. "Basically, we came out as a team and really played well."
After outscoring the Pioneers by 13 in the first quarter the Wildcats followed that by outscoring them 21-6 in the second.
"We can't play any better than that,"
"I think we did some pretty good things tonight.
"If we play like that we'll be pretty tough to beat."
Findlay (22-2) also proved to be too formidable for North Royalton (17-7).
The Trojans took the lead early and were comfortably in control most of the way.
Roethlisberger scored 17 of her points in the first half to lead the Trojans into the break with a 27-19 lead. Findlay outscored North Royalton 12-2 in the third quarter to take a commanding 39-21 lead into the final period.
"Carlee, with her athleticism, is able to create a lot of opportunities on offense," Lyon said.
Contact Donald Emmons at:
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