Both teams entered the game undefeated in the Inter-County League.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BERLIN CENTER -- You could see this coming.
Western Reserve High has never won an Inter-County League girls basketball title. South Range won it last year.
The Blue Devils have no seniors. The Raiders have four seniors, including the league's best player, Crystal Schuler.
Western Reserve is this year's surprise. South Range is this year's favorite.
So, the ICL's feel-good story of the season came to an abrupt end as the visiting Raiders beat the Blue Devils 58-40 Thursday.
Compliment: "That's the best Western Reserve team I've seen in a number of years," South Range coach Don Feren said. "But we've been here before and we're almost expected to be here."
Both teams entered the game undefeated in the league, and the Blue Devils (8-5, 6-1) quickly jumped out to an 8-2 lead as South Range missed its first nine shots.
But the Raiders (11-0, 6-0) answered with a 12-3 run to end the quarter ahead 14-11 and they never trailed again.
"We prepare for every game like it's a big game," said South Range senior Becky Skowron, who had 13 points, three rebounds and two steals. "The seniors wanted to be 11-0 going into our game against Leetonia [on Tuesday]. It's exciting."
Western Reserve made it interesting. The Blue Devils twice cut their deficit to three points in the second quarter and got within one, 27-26 in the opening minutes of the third.
South Range finished the quarter with a 13-3 run and the Blue Devils could get no closer than seven points in the fourth quarter.
"You can't fault our effort; our execution just wasn't there," Western Reserve coach Erik Kalina said. "[South Range] played pretty well. They're the class of the league."
Neither team shot well from the field, but the Raiders hit 14-of-18 at the line while Western Reserve was just 5-for-9.
"It was unbelievable -- every time I looked up they were making foul shots," Kalina said.
Top scorers: Senior Crystal Schuler led the Raiders with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Kelly James added eight points, seven rebounds and four steals.
"We maintained our composure," Feren said. "This is a big game so we knew [the Blue Devils] would be fired up early. A lot of times those who shoot early don't get the shots at the end."
Junior guard Anne Marie Ricciardi had a solid all-around game for the Blue Devils with 12 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Jen White added 18 points and eight rebounds.
"I think we've snuck up on some teams this year," Kalina said. "I think a lot of teams will be ready for us the second time around. It'll be a good challenge."