MINERAL RIDGE - South Range came into the Division III Mineral Ridge district tournament as the eight-seed.
Now that they're heading to the tournament semifinals, they can't fly under the radar anymore.
South Range used a stingy press defense to create turnovers and converted many of the takeaways into points in a 62-53 win over fourth-seeded Newton Falls
The Lady Raiders jumped out to a 17-8 lead after one quarter and it proved to be the difference.
"We've been working on the press for a long time, and we're getting better at it," South Range head coach Wayne Johnson said.
"We didn't know too much about Newton Falls, but we knew they liked to press. We thought we could take the offensive. We did know that not many people pressed them."
South Range started its year at just 3-5. With Thursday night's win they've gone 11-3 since.
"The girls started realizing how good they could be," Johnson said of the transformation. "They realized they needed to play 32 minutes and we've been doing that."
They've been sharing the wealth, too. South Range had four players in double figures Thursday.
Lexi Naples had a team-high 17 points. Kelsey Maynard added 15, Stevie Taylor 13 and Kristen Robinson 10.
Brooke Barreca had a game-high 32 for Newton Falls.
With top-seeded Ursuline on deck, Johnson knows his team will need to give it all they've got to pull the upset and reach the district final.
"We probably played as good of defense tonight as we did all year," Johnson said. "We've got to get up and play good solid defense. That's going to be the best thing we have going for us."
Momentum certainly helps as well, and South Range has a ton of it.
"They're not ready to pack it in yet," Johnson said of his squad. "We knew we needed to be focused tonight. We're proud of them. They just keep working hard and have handled the pressure well. I'm not really sure how we match up with Ursuline yet, but we've got a week to prepare."
South Range (14-8) takes on Ursuline next Thursday. Tip-off is 6 p.m
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH RANGE: 17 17 8 20 - 62
NEWTON FALLS: 8 17 10 18 - 53
SOUTH RANGE SCORING: Lisa Stewart 0-0-0, Starla Sharp 2-0-4, Kelsey Maynard 4-7-15, Alison Oliver 0-1-1, Stevie Taylor 5-3-13, Lexi Naples 4-9-17, Kristen Robinson 5-0-10, Hannah Wiery 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 21, 20-31, 62.
NEWTON FALLS SCORING: Rachel Ellis 3-1-7, Alissa Abraham 0-1-1, Brooke Barreca 12-8-32, Angela Giuliano 3-1-9, Cassandra Smith 1-2-4. TEAM TOTALS: 19, 13-23, 53.
THREE POINTERS: Newton Falls 2 (Giuliano 2).