Girard senior Jen Maravola broke the school assist record in a 70-36 rout of Liberty.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
GIRARD -- On a milestone night for two of Trumbull County's finest players, the Girard High girls basketball team showed just how wide the difference is between first place and the rest of the Trumbull Athletic Conference.
Girard senior Jen Maravola -- the engine that drives the Indians' powerful defense -- broke the school's assist record Thursday as her squad dismantled a good third-place Liberty team, 70-36.
On the Indians' Senior Night, the Girard point guard dished out 13 assists for a career total of 442.
Classmate Bree Longberry and sophomore Cachet Murray were the beneficiaries of several Maravola passes as they each scored 19 points for Girard ((17-1, 14-1). Senior Tealle Hunkus netted 13 points and nine rebounds.
Girard coach Andy Saxon was concerned because Senior Night emotions can sometimes cause a slow start.
"But with our girls being a veteran team, they took that emotion and turned it in a positive way and that set the tone for the game," Saxon said.
At the other end of the court, Liberty senior Jessica White scored 17 points to become the Leopards' first player to top 1,000 for her career.
"Thousand-point players -- they find ways to get the ball and score," Liberty (12-6, 9-5) coach John Hritz said. "We put a lot of pressure on her, but she's a pleasure to coach and a heckuva kid."
White, who finished third in the state last spring in the Division II 100-meter and 200-meter races, dished out credit to her teammates.
"I never thought I would make it so I'm excited," said White, who didn't play varsity as a freshman. "Without them, I never would have done this."
Saxon said the Indians defenders were motivated because White "scored 31 on us the first time, and our girls were determined not to let it happen again.
"In the second half of the season, our defense has really improved to where we are giving teams trouble [scoring]," Saxon said.
Needing 12 points to set the Liberty mark, White had seven going into the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer and a basket underneath gave her the milestone.
The Indians, who are tied with Hubbard at the top of the TAC, hounded the Leopards into 16 first-half turnovers in grabbing a 36-12 lead.
Longberry, who netted 11 first-quarter points as the Indians jumped out to a 23-5 lead, admitted pregame ceremonies had her teammates "all emotional, but our defense led us. That's what has gotten us where we are.
"It was an emotional night, but we all went out there and played with heart," Longberry said. "Girard has never won back-to-back TAC championships, so that has been our goal for this year."
Girard will win a share of the title with a win at Champion next Thursday.
"When the championship is on the line, a good team takes no prisoners," Hritz said. "They came out determined that they weren't going to give up their co-championship.
"They took Jessica White out of the game -- they're a good basketball team," Hritz said. "They're going to go a long way in the tournament."