BASKETBALL Western Reserve quietly takes over first place in Inter-County League
The Blue Devils defeated Mineral Ridge 53-41.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
BERLIN CENTER -- There are a few things to know about the Western Reserve High girls basketball team.
They began Thursday night's game in second place in the Inter County league.
Their only loss came against league-leading South Range.
There isn't a senior on the team.
And, finally, their success has gone virtually unnoticed by the local media.
"Shh, don't tell anybody," said Western Reserve coach Eric Kalina after his team beat visiting Mineral Ridge for the second time this season, 53-41.
A first: "This is the first time we've won when the press has been at our game," Kalina said. "I didn't tell the girls, but the other three times we've had press we've lost.
"Coaches keep these little stats in the back of their minds."
The Blue Devils (9-5, 7-1) are now a half-game ahead of South Range in the ICL after the Raiders lost in overtime to Springfield on Thursday.
Western Reserve took advantage of a cold shooting Mineral Ridge team to pull away.
The Devils played a 2-3 zone defensively that forced the Rams to put up errant shots en route to a 19-of-63 (30 percent) performance.
"[Mineral Ridge] really had trouble shooting the basketball," Kalina said. "It seemed like once we went to that 2-3 zone, that was the difference maker for us."
Career-best for Hallos: The other difference maker was the Blue Devils' Jen Hallos, who had a career-best 20 points. The junior played a strong game inside despite going up against the Rams' big inside players.
"Jen [Hallos] hasn't been a big scorer for us," said Kalina. "But she was instrumental in leading us along with Jen White."
White scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Blue Devils.
Despite shooting poorly, the Rams were able to keep the game close in the first half because of senior Tiffany Hack and junior Dariano Casado. Hack scored eight points while Casado scored seven of her team-leading 15 points in the first two periods.
But the Rams couldn't overcome their shooting woes in the second half and Western Reserve slowly pulled away.
"You can't shoot like we did and win many games," Mineral Ridge coach Darren Garris said. "Western Reserve's a good team and they are playing well. They made us shoot outside and the shots just weren't falling."
The Blue Devils out-scored Mineral Ridge in every quarter and held their own on the boards against the bigger Rams, getting out-rebounded 38-33.
"These girls are all juniors and they play well together," said Kalina. "When we do that we are a good team."