Lowellville girls christen new gym
The score was 32-32 until the Rockets outscored Western Reserve 15-1 in the fourth quarter.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
LOWELLVILLE -- If you're uncertain whether Adam or Eve came first, the inaugural athletic event at the new Lowellville High School gymnasium Friday night sets the record straight.
That's when the Lowellville-Western Reserve girls basketball game was the first non-practice athletic event held in the Rockets' new gym.
In a fitting way for its spanking-new home facility, Lowellville (9-1, 4-1) came out the winner, 47-32, when Western Reserve (9-2, 4-1) collapsed in the fourth quarter.
The game preceded the varsity boys game between the same two schools.
After Western Reserve knotted the game at 32-32 on Kim Morrison's free throw with 6:39 remaining, Lowellville scored the next 15 points. Morrison's point was the Blue Devils' only point in the final eight minutes-plus.
Wheels came off
"The offensive wheels came off," Western Reserve coach Eric Kalina said. "Between injuries to two players, I'm trying to buy a couple minutes to get them healed up and before I knew it, Lowellville started an avalanche. Nothing would fall for us and we're behind by five, then seven, then nine."
But Kalina wasn't using injuries to Jen Hallos and Anna Marie Ricciardi as excuses.
"Ricciardi's our horse," he said. "But give Lowellville credit; they outplayed us in the fourth quarter -- plane and simple."
Ricciardi had a team-high 11 points for Reserve, but senior Danielle Hvisdak poured in 18 for Lowellville while sophomore teammate Amanda Nero added 15.
A ceremonial tipoff for the girls game at 6 p.m. was conducted by 1975 Lowellville graduate Joe DeRosa, now an NBA official.
In the jumpball, Reserve's Jen White was in the circle against Lowellville's Dana Donatelli and tapped the ball to Tiffany Palumbo.
Then the real tipoff took place and the same combination enabled the Blue Devils to take a 2-0 lead when White made a baseline jumper 21 seconds into the game.
Lowellville recovered to go up 12-8, but Reserve took a 15-14 lead on Hallos' basket. The Rockets came back, but weren't able to mount any sizeable spread until early in the fourth quarter. Following Morrison's free throw at 6:39, Hvisdak sank a 3-pointer from the right wing and Tami Nero followed to put Lowellville on top, 37-32.
"We feed off of that," said Lowellville coach Tony Matisi. "Our 3-pointers seem get our offense going."
Hvisdak finished with three 3-pointers. Ricciardi had the Blue Devils' lone 3-pointer.
Although Lowellville's full-court defense was effective, its offense had a challenge.
"Because our offense feeds off our defense, we try to get that score up there. I know Reserve plays such a fundamentally good defense, that they're going to make us come down and pass the ball -- which we don't want to do. We want to put the ball up. And that's exactly what they did, was take away our speed and our fastbreak.
"We're not normally a half-court offense. We're a transition offense. We knew they were going to make adjustments to our offense."
In the end, free throws helped Lowellville, which made 14 of 25 while Western Reserve converted 7-of-14.