Poland, Salem advance to championship game
Poland defeated Hubbard and Salem ousted Mooney, to set up a rubber match between the MAC rivals.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
AUSTINTOWN -- Jami Duvall heard something pop. Then she felt pain in her knee. Lots of pain. The Hubbard High senior dropped to the floor and, minutes later, was carried off.
There were over three quarters remaining, but Hubbard's season was effectively over.
"We're not a real deep team," Eagles coach Dave Konczal said. "If you've watched us play, you know that Jami's probably played every meaningful minute we've had this year.
"But I was real proud that our other girls kept their focus and didn't change the game plan simply because Jami was out."
The Eagles trailed 13-5 when Duvall was injured, but stayed close most of the game before losing to Poland, 55-46, in a Division II district semifinal Thursday at Fitch High School.
"I felt so bad," Poland coach Jamie Dunn said. "She's a very nice player and that put them at a terrible disadvantage. It was akin to us losing Kristy [Gaudiose]."
Gaudiose, Graf sparkle
As usual, Gaudiose played well, scoring 18 points -- including 13-of-14 at the foul line -- and added four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
But senior Steffi Graf was the difference. Graf hit four 3-pointers in the first half, finishing with 17 points for the Bulldogs (17-5), who play Salem Saturday in the district championship game.
"It's great when your teammates get you the ball when you're hot," Graf said. "We moved the ball really well."
Poland led 18-7 after the first quarter, but couldn't pull away. Hubbard cut the deficit to 48-41 with 2:30 remaining in the game, but would get no closer.
"I was really happy with the start we got," Dunn said. "Steffi had a great start and Audrey Iudiciani [five points, two assists] came off the bench and really played well for us."
Katy Jo Mroski led Hubbard (18-4) with 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Mroski finished her career as Hubbard's all-time leading scorer and rebounder.
The Eagles won back-to-back Trumbull Athletic Conference titles and the stellar senior class of Mroski, Duvall, Jill Phillips and Anna DeJulio had the most wins of any Trumbull County basketball team over the last four years, Konczal said.
Junior Lynle Cornell added 13 points and DeJulio had five assists.
Salem 50, Mooney 35
No offense, but when Cardinal Mooney plays Salem, there's no offense.
Alyson Cotter had 18 points and the Quakers took a 22-14 halftime lead to earn their second victory over the Cardinals this season. Salem won the first meeting, 47-26.
"I wasn't displeased at all," Salem coach Steve Stewart said. "We did more good things than bad things.
"I'm happy to still be playing."
Sarah Hamilton added nine points and 10 rebounds for the Quakers (19-3), who shared the Metro Athletic Conference title with Poland. The teams split their season series.
Aieshya Dixon had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Mooney (15-8) and Anastasia Vouvalis added 10 points and eight rebounds.
"I don't know that we would have had to play perfect [to win], but they executed well," Mooney coach Roy Nard said. "They're an awfully good basketball team."