The Rams rallied past East Palestine 60-45, while Crestview edged Springfield.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
HANOVERTON -- Mineral Ridge and East Palestine were locked in a 26-all halftime stalemate during their Division III sectional tournament girls basketball tournament game on Monday.
But in the second half Mineral Ridge reeled off a 25-10 early in the fourth quarter and went on to a 60-45 victory in first of two games at United High School.
Crestview defeated Springfield 46-43 in the second game.
The Rams' Dariana Casado, Danielle Bako and Tiffany Hack decided the outcome in the opener.
Casado, a 5-foot-10 junior, finished with team highs of 19 points and 14 rebounds. She was 9-for-17 from the field. Bako, a 5-4 junior, added 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, with three steals. Hack, a 5-10 senior, contributed 14 points plus six assists.
Mineral Ridge (13-8) advanced to play top-seeded Ursuline (15-5) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in a sectional final.
Casado tallied 10 points in the Rams' run, which gave them a 51-36 lead. Bako contributed eight, including back-to-back 3-point goals.
"We didn't have anyone to match up with Casado and Hack," said East Palestine coach Dan McKinstry. "Casado was more athletic than anyone I have, Hack is 5-11 and I didn't have anyone [to match up with her]. Casado and Hack and bigger and more athletic.
"But Bako made those 3s in the third quarter, and that broke the game open [at 36-28]. When she made them, we had to go out and get her, and that changed what we had to do."
Ashley Martin, a 5-9 senior, led East Palestine with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Abbey Gorby, a 5-5 junior, added 12 points, including a pair of 3-point goals, and three steals. Liz Strohecker added seven points and four assists.
"We came out in the second half and turned it up a bit," said Rams' coach Darren Garris. "Casado missed a lot of shots in the first half, but she made them in the second half."
Crestview 46, Springfield 43: Coach Tanja Simione of Crestview challenged Katie Kibby to assert herself in the final quarter against Springfield.
Kibby, a 6-1 sophomore, accepted the challenge, responding with six of the Rebels' final eight points.
Kibby, taking timely passes from guards Erin Mellinger, Ashleigh Parker and Megan Mellinger, launched her last-quarter attack with three straight goals that pulled Crestview from a 38-38 tie to a 44-43 lead. Kibby finished with team-highs of 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
The Rebels (12-9) advanced to play fourth-seeded South Range (19-1) Thursday at 6 p.m. in a sectional final.
"I pulled [Kibby] over at the start of the fourth quarter and told her that if she didn't get the job done, someone younger was going in," said Simione. "That got her motivated."
Parker and Erin Mellinger each added a free throw in the waning seconds for insurance, while Springfield missed out on two scoring opportunities.
The Tigers turned the ball over with 52 seconds remaining while trailing 44-43. After Parker's free throw and a timeout with 34 seconds remaining, Talley Felger drove to the hoop but missed a layup. Jenna York got the rebound for Crestview.
Springfield (12-9) tied the score at 38 on Lindsay Johnson's back-to-back goals.
"We tried to trap the ball when it got to the corner," said Springfield coach Sandi Kohler. "They got out of it and got it to the big girl [Kibby] and she went to the hoop."
Erin Mellinger added 11 points and three assists and Parker 10 points, while York and Kate Kestner had six rebounds each for Crestview.
Sarah Fannon had 12 points for Springfield, while Felger chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds.