Despite effects of sitting out one week, Mustangs top Youngstown Christian.
LIBERTY -- The Mathews High girls basketball team, with an 18-2 regular-season record, was awarded the second seed at the Division IV district tournament at Liberty High School. While top-seeded Lowellville and third-seeded McDonald opted to play first-round games, Mustangs' coach John Cicero took a bye.
After Thursday's game against Youngstown Christian, Cicero was second-guessing his decision.
The Eagles, utilizing a 1-2-2 zone trap press and a patient offense, managed to keep within striking distance in the first quarter by forcing nine turnovers and working the ball inside. Mathews held a 17-12 lead at the end of the first, but a poor shooting performance by the Eagles in the second quarter allowed the Mustangs to open a 26-14 lead at the half en route to a 53-37 victory.
Cicero admitted that his team is not used to playing on a court the size of Liberty's and that it could have benefited from playing a preliminary game.
"It's been a week since we played and we were a little rusty coming in here," said Cicero. "We knew it was going to be an adjustment. I probably shouldn't have taken the bye. I took the bye and when the other seeded teams took a game I'm thinking maybe I should have taken a game. Now I know I should have taken a game. My mistake."
Second half rally
Youngstown Christian (9-13) made a run in the third quarter as 6-foot junior Rachel Coristin scored three baskets in the first two minutes to pull the Eagles within 26-20. However, Coristin, who finished with a team-high 17 points, picked up her fourth foul with just under six minutes to play in the third and went to the bench.
Although Coristin sat out for less than a minute, the Mustangs took advantage of her foul trouble and senior Melanie Roscoe scored three buckets in a two-minute span with Coristin cautiously defending. Roscoe's bucket at the 2:06 mark put the Mustangs up 38-25.
Eagles' coach Dennis Malaska was pleased with his team's performance especially because this is the first year that the school has played an OHSAA schedule.
"Defensively I was pleased, with our press I was pleased, but once we fell behind we started rushing our offense and not being patient," said Malaska. "We just needed to do a better job on our half court offense. Coristin is a good player. We just needed to get her the ball a little more, hit a few more outside shots to open it up underneath. They [Mustangs] knew she had four fouls and that she wasn't going to play aggressive defense. So they took it at her."
Senior Tara Ford led the Mustangs (19-2) with 25 points while Roscoe finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
McDonald 48, Southern 17
LIBERTY -- McDonald (14-8), for the second straight tournament outing, was led by Ashleigh Tondo who scored 12 points and Amy Dolsak, who had 10.
The Blue Devils, in eliminating the Indians (2-19) Took control from the start as they were ahead 21-2 after the first quarter and in command 38-6 at intermission.
Laura Vandyne and Herlinda Talbott each scored four points for the Indians.