Amanda Nero led the Rockets to a 51-11 rout with a 25-point effort.
LIBERTY -- All Lowellville High girls basketball coach Tony Matisi could do was shake his head after his team's first-round Division IV sectional tournament game against Bristol at Liberty High School Monday night.
After all, it was not pretty.
The Rockets (17-3) jumped out to a 13-0 lead after the first quarter of play and cruised to a 51-11 victory. Lowellville's defense forced 15 Bristol turnovers and forced the Panthers to take hurried shots. The Rockets also dominated the boards, outrebounding the Panthers 50-39.
But in spite of the wide margin on the scoreboard and the impressive rebounding margin, Matisi realizes his team still has to find a way to take pressure off senior guard Amanda Nero.
Leads way again
Nero finished with a game-high 25 points despite a Bristol box-and-one defense pressuring her most of the game. However, the Rockets were only able to get one other player in double figures -- senior Sara Porter added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"We've got to get girls making shots besides Amanda," said Matisi. "That's what we tried to do tonight -- get everyone to make some shots -- but we didn't do a very good job of it. We've got to get more people involved. We've got to make some shots from the outside."
The thing that Matisi was probably happiest about was that once the game was under control, the Rockets were able to run some defenses and offenses that they may need in their upcoming tournament games.
Faces Sebring next
The Rockets will take on Sebring at 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday. Lowellville defeated the Trojans 54-43 on Dec. 29.
"They gave us a heck of a time," said Matisi, of his team's first matchup with Sebring. "They played a box-and-one on us and it was probably the best we've seen all year and we've seen a lot of them. We were tied at halftime. They really did a good job against us defensively."
Lowellville captured the Inter-County League title, going undefeated in the league. However, the Rockets' three losses came to Warren JFK, Cardinal Mooney and Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas, games Matisi said was preparation for tournament time.
"You want to get tough for this time of year," said the coach. "That's why I scheduled those games. You want to work through something like tonight because our defense does pick up our offense. Our defense is going to get us through this tourney."
Senior Nikita Light led Bristol (5-16) with six points and six rebounds.
Jackson-Milton 51, Leetonia 34
Jackson-Milton jumped out to a 25-14 lead at halftime and was never threatened. Sophomore Elizabeth Hughes scored a game-high 16 points and junior Megan Whitmer added 10 for the Bluejays.
Jackson-Milton (8-13) will play fourth-seeded Southington at 6 p.m. Wednesday for a sectional championship.
Senior Alison Summers led Leetonia (5-16) with 12 points and senior Malorie Valentine added nine.