Columbiana girls topple Crestview in Sectionals

Columbiana, OH (WKBN) – It can be hard to beat a team twice in a season, especially if that team is your arch-rival. But the Columbiana Clippers led from start to finish in a Division III first round tournament game Wednesday night as they beat the Crestview Rebels 38-27 at home.

“This is very important for us because we’re just very bonded as a team this year. So it means a lot to all of us especially me and Brynn, the only two seniors,” Elise Hammond remarked. “It’s a big win to be able to keep playing with this team. I don’t ever want it to end basically.”

“This was definitely not a game I would want to end my career on. It’s always a fun rivalry,” Hammond added about playing Crestview.

Clippers coach Ron Moschella was quick to point out what was really the key to his team’s victory, “”Kids were making defensive plays,” Clippers coach Ron Moschella said. “You know we held them to twenty-seven points. I hate to say it, but that’s the key. It wasn’t so much us wanting to score, but it was holding them down. They have good three-point shooters, so we took them away, and we changed up our defenses a lot.”

“Just a rough start. We got ourselves in a hole right off the bat and then just trying to fight our way back all game,” Rebel coach Rick Gates explained. “It just didn’t feel like offensively we got in a very good rhythm most of the game. We didn’t hit shots when we had shooters getting good looks.”

After the Clippers raced out to a 10-0 run to start the game, they closed the first quarter with a 16-9 lead. Powered by three, three-pointers by freshman Tessa Leggett they continued to keep the Rebels at bay in the second quarter as they led 21-15 at the intermission.

“Tessa saved us in the first half,” Moschella admitted.

“Her being a freshman it’s important for her to get confidence. Because hitting three’s and shots like that really gives everybody a boost of confidence, and makes our defense pick up a lot. It helps us get going and getting into stride,” Hammond remarked.

In the second half, after the Rebels cut the deficit down to just 4-points at 21-17 courtesy of a Emma Smith bucket, it was Hammond’s turn to bury the three’s as she connected on back-to-back trips down the court for the Clippers helping pull them out to a 13-point 30-17 advantage with 3:54 remaining in the third quarter.

“I think that’s just Tessa’s and my role on the team,” Hammond said.

Hammond and Leggett would each score 9 points to pace the Clippers on the night. Mariah Rovnak and Khylea Fullum would both pulled down 5 rebounds to lead the Clippers on the boards. Rovnak would also dish out 5 assist.

The Rebels would outscore the Clippers in the final frame 8-5, but it was not enough s Mariah Rovnak sank three foul shots in the final minute to preserve the Clippers victory.

“At 15 and 8 we’re happy we ended up second in the league,” Gates said of the Rebels season. “You know 15 wins is a good year, but we challenged the girls to make it better next year.”

With the victory the Clippers will now face the seventh seeded United Eagles Saturday afternoon at home. “I love Sam as a coach,” Moschella said of playing coach Sam Mathias’ United Eagles.

“I know he’s prepared for the 2-2-1, but he’s not going to see that. He’s going to see something else,” Moschella said with a laugh.

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