COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – The Columbiana Clippers girls basketball team has become a dominating force this season, and they displayed that again Thursday night with an impressive 58-35 win over previously once beaten Springfield. The Clippers improve to 10-0 on the season while the Tigers drop to 6-2.
The Clippers used a smothering defense in the second half to methodically pull away from the Tigers. With the Clippers only leading by seven 30-23 at intermission, they only surrendered 12 second half points to the Tigers. Meanwhile, the Clippers tossed up 28 in the half.
“We just talked about how we needed to work harder on defense and make sure we stopped the ball and do more of our spread out so we could cover so they wouldn’t score,” sophomore forward Kennedy Fullum said about the intermission discussion.
“I told them he (Schuler) is going to be prepared for the press,” Clippers coach Ron Moschella said. “We went half court and that didn’t work very well either, so we just went to our match up zone. We were in foul trouble so I told the kids we’re going to a mtchup zone and your going to play it well.”
The Tigers battled the Clippers in the first half coverting a couple three-point shots and seven free throws while getting the Clippers in some early foul trouble. When Taylor Coy hit a three from the left corner with just 14-seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Tigers trailled by one point at 15-14. A basket by Alexis Cross at the buzzer gave the Clippers a 17-14 lead at the end of the period.
The Clippers would outscore the Tigers 13-9 in the second stanza as both teams settled into a more defensive battle. The Clippers would go on a 8-2 run at the start of the period to go up by 9 at 25-16, but the Tigers would close the quarter with a 7-5 run to make it 30-23 at halftime.
“It was a good battle,” Tigers coach Jim Schuler remarked. “We didn’t turn it over as much (first half). We got them in some foul trouble and I think that helped. We got to the free throw line and made some points that way. We were able to keep the game within reach.”
In the third quarter, the Clippers would pushed their lead to as much as 16 points at 41-25 following two free throws from Cross. However, the Tigers Haley LaMorticella would connect on a three with just 15 seconds left to make it 41-28 at the end of the period.
The Clippers would open the final period with a 11-0 run, taking a commanding 52-28 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the contest. The Tigers would close the game with a 7-5 run to make the final score a 23-point margin.
“The biggest thing in the second half was the turnovers and second chance points,” Schuler said. “That’s why they just kind of piece by piece moved ahead.”
“It was a good test,” Moshella admitted. “Plus in the second half I decided we are going to need to learn to play teams that can break our press so we are getting ready for that in how we play half court offense. Our half court offense is getting much better. So I’m happy about that. You don’t get to play half court when you press all the time. So tonight was the perfect opportunity to get into it.”
The Clippers were led by Fullum and Kayla Muslovski with 15 points a piece. Mariah Rovnak would add an additional 12 points. Alexis Cross would haul down 8 rebounds while Fullum grabbed 5 to pace the Clippers on the boards.
“It all really comes from the team, I mean once somebody scores everyone gets so excited and it fuels everybody else’s game. I think that is just how we win, we just work so hard as a team,” Fullum said of the team scoring.
“Any time you play Columbiana, a well coached basketball team, they’re going to be physical, and aggressive. It’s a good challenge against a team that’s going to be successful and you can kind of give yourself a little measuring stick to figure out where your at,” Schuler concluded.
Haley LaMorticella took high scoring honors for the Tigers with 12 points on the night. Taylor Coy came off the bench to give the Tigers a spark in the first half while scoring 9 points. Makenzy Capoullez led the Tigers on the boards with 5 rebounds.
Both teams take a week long Christmas break with the Clippers hosting United next Thursday while the Tigers will travel to Western Reserve.