The Tigers' advantage in those areas was key against Lowellville.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NEW MIDDLETOWN -- When a basketball team lacks offensive rebounding, it has no offensive insurance.
The other team can apply the defensive pressure to force bad shots, and then when they are missed, can get the rebounds.
Such was the case in the Springfield-Lowellville girls high school game Monday night.
The Tigers used those exact defense-and-rebounding tactics in the third quarter to rally from a 27-26 deficit to a 41-35 victory, in an Inter-County League game.
Taking advantage: Trailing 27-26 at the 5:00 mark of the third, Springfield (8-7, 6-3 ICL) capitalized with defense and rebounding to get its offense going, and reeled off a 9-0 run for a 35-27 lead.
Jessica Snyder led the Tigers in the third period with her only four points of the game.
Then, with Lowellville (9-6, 5-4) struggling to recover, Carrie Davis hit two foul shots at 3:57 to give Springfield a 37-29 advantage, then Lindsay Johnson added a goal and foul shot down the stretch to make it 40-31.
Johnson led Springfield with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Sarah Fannon chipped in with nine points and Meghan Wood had eight.
Tami Nero, a senior guard, scored a game-high 15 points to lead Lowellville, while her sister Amanda, a freshman guard, contributed eight.
In agreement: Both coaches, Sandi Kohler of Springfield and Tony Matisi of Lowellville, agreed that the Tigers applied an effective 1-2 punch of defense and rebounding in that critical span of the third quarter that turned the tide.
"They [Springfield] picked it up offensively," said Matisi. "They took away our two scorers [the Nero sisters]."
Matisi said his team lacks tall players.
"We've been struggling offensively. We are so small everyone is starting to play us [defensively] on the perimeter because they know we don't have the height underneath. We're not physical.
"We have too many guards. But we have two young freshmen who have height. Maybe next year they will be ready."
Kohler agreed with the factors in the turnabout.
"We capitalized on their lack of height. We were trying to get inside to take advantage of that," she said.
Meanwhile, Kohler said the Tigers' defense zeroed in on Lowellville's outside shooters, especially the Nero sisters.
"They are good players [the Nero sisters]," she said. "They played well the last time we played. So we knew we had to shut them down from taking the shot outside. Jessica [Snyder] and [Talley] Felger, they did a great job of [guarding] the Neros."
Got their points: Despite the Tigers' defensive hounding, the Neros still managed to combined for 23 of their team's 35 points.
Kohler admitted sometimes her offense over-pushed to get the ball inside, "and sometimes we didn't throw it to the person who is open."
It was Johnson who came up with clutch plays to hold off Lowellville.
After Dana Donatelli's goal pulled the Rockets to within 35-29, Johnson stole the ball near Lowellville's basket and shortly after scored on a driving lay-up. She got a foul shot to raise the count to 40-31.
"Johnson didn't play her best game, but she stepped up when she had to and she made the plays," said Kohler.
However, the Rockets kept battling. Amanda Nero and Tami Nero connected on back-to-back goals to slice the deficit to 40-35. But Lowellville's momentum was blunted by Felger's foul shot with 37 seconds remaining.
Kohler said her team has been inconsistent.
"That's the way we have been playing a lot lately," she said. "We lacked execution."
But, she emphasized, "When we are focused to execute, we are able [to do that]."