RAVENNA — Following the postgame handshake line, smiling coach John Carmigiano clapped his hands continuously and center Mckenna Jordan skipped along like a kindergartner at recess as her red-haired pigtails swung to and fro.
The Cloverleaf girls basketball team understood the magnitude of the 18th victory in what has been a memorable season — that is, as long as the job is finished correctly in the coming five days.
The stars shined when the Colts needed sparks Thursday, as Helaina Limas went absolutely berserk during a stalemate-breaking run in the second quarter and Jordan had a woman-among-girls fourth to spearhead a critical 54-42 victory at Ravenna.
Cloverleaf (18-2, 11-1) maintained a share of first place with Norton (13-6, 11-1) atop the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division after taking down the underrated third-place Ravens (10-10, 8-4). Only Field (Saturday; 4-13, 3-8) and Streetsboro (Wednesday; 9-11, 8-4) stand in the way of the Colts’ first league championship.
“Honestly, this just gives us hope,” Jordan said. “Now we’re just going to take it one game at a time and focus on each one. This definitely gives us a lot of momentum going into the postseason, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Jordan (19 points, 12 rebounds) and Limas (17, 3, 6 assists, 5 steals) combined for 36 points, but they felt like 72 when context was added.
After point guard Cameron Tripp (7 points, 6 rebounds) kept the Colts afloat as they tried to figure out Ravenna’s 3-2 zone over the first 1ﾽ quarters, Limas, who scored 36 points in the first meeting on Dec. 20 but didn’t take an official shot attempt for the first 9:07 of this one, finally came alive.
During a dizzying 13-3 run that took fewer than three minutes, Limas had steals on four consecutive possessions, scored seven points and twice dished assists to Jordan for baseline 18-footers before finding defensive pest Jenna Oliver for another corner jumper. When the dust settled, Cloverleaf had turned a brutally hard game to watch into a semi-cozy 24-11 lead.
Ravenna, whose record is deceiving because of a brutal non-league schedule featuring West Branch (20-0), Eastlake North (17-3), Garrettsville Garfield (15-4) and Canfield (16-3), never got to a one-possession deficit the rest of the night.
“I feel like we had so much adrenaline that we kicked it into high gear,” Limas said. “We got on a run, obviously, and when we get like that we really feed off each other.”
“I was so mad,” Jordan added about the slow start. “I just wanted to get out and play.”
Though the Colts led 24-15 at halftime, the third quarter teetered on the brink of a train wreck because the majority of their eight turnovers were unforced and almost immediately followed a steal or defensive rebound.
The defense held strong, however, as the Ravens could neither close the gap nor get the ball to center Lauren Calhoun (20 points, 8 rebounds) because of Cloverleaf’s trapping.
Still looking for the knockout blow up 34-25 heading into the fourth, the Colts got it in a hurry with an 11-0 run. Jordan scored five quick points sandwiched around two corner 3-pointers from backup chucker Maddie Boltz, allowing Calhoun to rack up 10 garbage-time points to raise her season average to 16.6.
Jordan countered with 11 of her career-high 19 points in the period to ensure there was no comeback.
“Honestly I thought it was about grinding down, executing and making sure we were doing the little things right,” Jordan said.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cloverleaf 54, Ravenna 42
CLOVERLEAF 9 15 10 20 — 54
RAVENNA 8 7 10 17 — 42
Cloverleaf — Brianna Gallagher 0-0-0, Lisa Wangler 1-1-3, Mckenna Jordan 9-1-19, Helaina Limas 6-4-17, Cameron Tripp 2-2-7, Jenna Oliver 1-0-2, Maddie Boltz 2-0-6, Lexi Rhoads 0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-8-54.
Ravenna — Ravyn Majors 4-0-8, Daijah Caples 1-0-2, Lauren Calhoun 8-3-20, Avery Robinson 2-0-6, Jatia Caples 0-0-0, Kaitlyn Rogers 0-0-0, Micaiah Jones 2-0-4, Jasmine Pooler 0-2-2, Ava Paolucci 0-0-0. TOTALS: 17-5-42.
3-point goals — Boltz 2, Limas, Tripp, Robinson 2, Calhoun. Rebounds — Cloverleaf 35 (Jordan 12), Ravenna 26 (Calhoun 8). Assists — Cloverleaf 11 (Limas 6), Ravenna 12 (J. Caples 4). Records — Cloverleaf (18-2, 11-1), Ravenna (10-10, 8-4). Junior varsity — Ravenna 48, Cloverleaf 20.