The Western Reserve Lady Blue Devils outdueled the Lordstown Lady Red Devils 50-44 Thursday night to advance to the District IV Finals Saturday afternoon at 4pm. The Blue Devils will now face Columbiana in that championship game in what will be a grudge match between the two teams.
The Devils and Clippers split their regular season encounters, and also shared the ITCL Lower Tier championship this year. So as Devils coach Steve Miller explained this is why he choose to go into the other side of the bracket in the tournament.
“Our thought process was if we went near Columbiana, even if we played a great game and knocked them off, we thought we would have such an emotional let down and still have to come back and play a great Lordstown team. We didn’t know if it was as beneficial to us. I don’t know if there is a whole lot we have to do for Columbiana girls or Western Reserve girls to get them up, it’s going to be a great game,” Blue Devils coach Steve Miller explained.
“This was our goal, this is what we set out to do,” Miller said. “When the bracket came out the way it did with us being the three seed, I had two options. I could of went with Columbiana or I could have gone down with Lordstown. We expected both of them to be there at the end just like they are. We went this route and decided to go against Lordstown because we knew we were going to have to play two great games to get out of here.”
The Devils didn’t have an easy time with Lordstown as the Red Devils came out on fire and held a 14-8 first quarter lead. They would go up by 8-points early in the second quarter and held a slim 23-19 advantage at the halftime intermission.
But powered by Rachael Maslach and Aleah Hughes, the Blue Devils stormed back in the second half as Maslach converted two free throws at the 4:57 mark of the third quarter to tie the game up at 23. They would go on a 7-0 run to end the stanza and held a 34-27 lead after three quarters of play.
Maslach and Hughes would each score a game-high 19 points for the Blue Devils. Hughes would also lead the team with 9 rebounds.
“If you told me they both had 19 I’m not thinking it’s as close as it was,” Miller remarked. “Our game plan was to pound it in to Rachael no matter who was guarding her. She has been solid for us all year long. Aleah is averaging about 19, we expect that. They both had good games.”
The Blue Devils would go up by as much as 9-points early in the fourth quarter, only to have the Red Devils cut it down to a 1-point game at the 6:05 mark when the Red Devils Ally Hajnosz hit a three pointer, making it 36-35. From there the Blue Devils would convert costly Red Devil turnovers and outscore the Red Devils 14-9.
“It wasn’t different then it’s been. In the half court game we are pretty darn good. We might have cashed in on a couple of their turnovers and maybe that was the difference,” Miller said.
Miller also admitted that he threw some wrinkles at the Red Devils which helped to cause them to make some of their 22 turnovers in the game. “We went to a 1-4 set which we didn’t show them the first time, and we haven’t used all year. We showed a defense tonight just two or three possessions. We put it in today at five o’clock in the walk through. Tournament time I think sometimes you have to do that to just steal a possession or two. I was proud of the way they played and executed.”
Lordstown was led by Sarah Cash with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Hajnosz added 13 points for the Red Devils. Lordstown end their season with a 19-4 mark.
COURTESY: Lowell Spencer – ITCLFootball.net