Her coach says she draws more fouls than any player in Ohio and makes opponents pay with her accuracy.
VINDICATOR STAFF REPORT
BOARDMAN -- Tough decisions don't frighten Boardman High senior basketball player Ashlee Russo.
Want proof? Watch her fearless leaps to the net against off-guard defenders. Last season, Russo drew more fouls than any player in Ohio, according to Spartans coach Ron Moschella.
"She's a great penetrator who can drive and score," Moschella said of the 5-foot-8 guard.
"She draws a lot of fouls -- nobody in the state had as many attempts as she had. And she makes them pay," said Moschella, citing Russo's 83 percent completion rate at the free throw line last year.
She's also a future Penguin as Russo today signed a scholarship letter to play for Ed DiGregorio at Youngstown State University.
Russo, who has a 4.0 grade-point average and is president of her class, joins a long list of Boardman players (Mary Valley, Jen Lyden, Alyson Vogrin, Nadine Moschella, Christine Moschella) who played at YSU, including Penguins assistant coach Liz Hauger.
"Ashlee is really concerned about getting an education and YSU has a great engineering program and plays pretty good basketball," Moschella said. DiGregorio is excited about Russo coming to YSU.
"Ashlee Russo is your consummate player," he added. "She is tough at both ends of the court and she will fit in very well with our program. We feel very fortunate to be getting her."
Russo, a four-year starter who was scouted by Xavier and Cleveland State, said an important reason she chose YSU is "it's close, so my family can watch me. I really like their program. And their coaches are great."
Moschella said Russo's competitive fires drew his attention three years ago when he named her a starter as a freshman.
"The thing I love about her is her competitiveness," Moschella said. "She's very competitive, on the court and especially in the classroom."
Last March, Russo led the Spartans to the regional final where they lost to Cleveland East Tech. In district competition, Boardman defeated higher seeds North Canton Hoover and Canton McKinley to win its second straight title.
In Russo's sophomore season, the Spartans, whose starters included Celeste Hlebovy, Lisa Glozer and Jen Kish, also won district but lost to East Tech in the regional semifinals.
In August, Russo bruised a bone in her foot and has been on the sidelines watching the Spartans practice. Doctors have removed a protective cast and she's undergoing physical therapy and hopes to get clearance by week's end to begin running.
"It's so frustrating" watching her teammates practice, Russo said.
Now she knows what opponents feel when they try to defend her driving to the net.