The Tigers defeated Western Reserve to keep pace with the Rockets.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BERLIN CENTER -- Was Springfield's defense that good? Or was Western Reserve's shooting that bad?
Actually, it was a combination of both in an Inter-County League girls basketball game Monday night.
Springfield's man-to-man defense certainly was effective, but Western Reserve missed many close shots, and that combination enabled the Tigers to hold off the Blue Devils, 52-41, to stay tied for the league lead with Lowellville, each at 11-2.
The league championship will be decided Wednesday when Springfield plays host to South Range and Lowellville travels to Jackson-Milton, in the regular season finales.
Switching it up
"I thought we played great defense," said Springfield (13-6) coach Sandi Kohler. "This game we played the whole game man-to-man. The last time [against Western Reserve], we played a zone the whole game.
"It's hard to play against a man-to-man defense. You have to use your skills to make plays. We didn't give them the best shots they could have had," she added.
Coach Eric Kalina of Western Reserve (14-5, 9-4) said his team had plenty of chances to score.
"We were getting shots but couldn't hit them," he said. "We needed a few shots to fall in the fourth [quarter].
"It comes down to making shots."
Springfield enjoyed a well-balanced attack led by Lindsay Johnson with 13 points and 13 rebounds and Talley Felger with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Carrie Davis and Anglina Fiumara each added eight points, while Sarah Fannon had seven points and three assists, and Jessica Snyder four points and three assists.
Anna Marie Ricciardi scored 16 points to lead Western Reserve, while Jen White added eight. Ricciardi, a senior, is honing in on the school scoring record. She has 1,248 points and needs 11 more to pass Diana Smith, who graduated in 1989.
In the lead
Springfield used a 21-8 uprising spanning the first and second quarters, led by Johnson's seven points and Fiumara's five, to a 29-17 halftime advantage.
The Tigers padded the lead to as many as 19 points (39-20) in the third quarter, before Western Reserve rallied to within nine points three times, the last at 50-41, but could get no closer.
"We had a lack of execution versus the press," said Kalina.
"I was disappointed in our intensity in the first half. We had more fire in the second half."
Kohler said her defense didn't let Western Reserve "beat us off the dribble, and if we can do this, we can have a good game."