N. Falls girls set for regional

After winning the Division III district championship at Ravenna High School on Saturday, the Newton Falls Tigers girls basketball team is ready for the challenge that lies ahead of it.

The Tigers (18-7) face Elyria Catholic (20-5) in a regional semifinal tonight at 8 at Cuyahoga Falls High School.

After beating Conneaut in a sectional bracket final, Newton Falls beat Garfield, 41-39, in overtime, and then defeated Waterloo in the district final, 41-27. In three postseason games, the Tigers gave up just 31 points per game while averaging 44.3 points.

“Our defense has been crucial all around. This team has locked itself in on the defensive side of the ball and that has been tremendous for us,” Newton Falls coach Mark Baker said. “My defensive coach has put us in a great position to succeed. The girls have bought into everything that he has tried to do and the results have been there.”

Elyria Catholic has a lot of good things going for it. Elyria defeated Lutheran West in the North Ridgeville District final, 56-47.

The Panthers come in with a lot of size and very good shooting. Elyria Catholic has five girls over 5-foot-9 and three girls over 6-foot-1 with Megan Scheibelhut at 6-2, Abby Winnen at 6-1 and Ally Winnen at 6-1.

“We’ve played teams with size before so that won’t really bother us too much. We don’t neccesarily look at size as an issue because it all depends on how we can play against it,” Tigers center Izzy Kline said of the match-up. “Everything depends on who works the hardest all game. We don’t have much size but we work harder than I’ve seen.”

Newton Falls has some size itself along with great outside shooting that will pose a problem for Elyria Catholic. Kline holds down the middle for the Tigers and knows what to expect.

“We know about their shooting as well and we need to stay alert while knowing who should or shouldn’t be open on the perimeter,” Kline said. “Either way, I’m super proud of this team. We have matured each and every game. Everyone is stepping up at the right time and filling their roles quite nicely.”

Defense has been a key for the Tigers and it will be for Elyria Catholic as well.

“They have a multi-faceted defense where they can change the style they need based on the situation at hand,” Baker said. “They have a nice balance of an inside-out game.

“Our expectations are no different for this game. As long as we play smart while continuing to rebound well and play great defense, I know we will be right where we want to be.”