Lowellville guard rebounded from slow start with pair of 3-pointers.
BERLIN CENTER -- When Lowellville High senior Amanda Nero missed her first two shots against Western Reserve in Monday night's game, one Blue Devils fan commented that the 5-foot-8 guard "must be sick."
And when she was just 1-for-4 more than halfway through the first quarter, another said, "She's having an off night."
Nero, a Division IV first-team All-Ohio selection and the Northeast Ohio Inland District co-player of the year last season, proved to be neither as she sparked a 12-4 run -- going 5-for-5 in a three-minute span -- to give the Rockets a 22-12 lead early in the second quarter en route to a 66-37 Inter-County League victory.
The versatile Nero hit two 3-pointers and a 15-footer from the left wing before coach Tony Matisi moved her to play the high post in an effort to get an inside game going. She quickly scored twice from the right block on a pair of assists from 6-foot freshman Alison Grapevine.
"We tried to pack it in and make them shoot outside," said first-year Western Reserve coach Kim Clark. "They weren't hitting their shots so they spread us out and then he stuck Nero inside and they got the inside game going.
"He [Matisi] had a great game plan. We'd pack it in, they'd shoot outside, and then they spread us out and went inside."
Nero finished with a game-high 26 points, hitting 10-of-16 field goal attempts. Sophomore guards Kristen Pallozzi and Kaitlin McCarthy added 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Sophomore forward Lainey Kekic led Western Reserve (4-10, 3-4) with 10 points.
Matisi, whose team is 13-0 overall and 8-0 in the ICL and ranked sixth in Division IV, looked relieved after the game, admitting that he had been concerned heading into the matchup with the Blue Devils for a couple of reasons.
"I was definitely afraid of this game," Matisi said. "We've got a big one Thursday with Springfield and when we played these guys [Blue Devils] early in the season we beat them by 60-some points. And they've just been coming on and coming on.
"I knew coming in that if we got caught looking ahead that we were going to be in trouble because they've [Blue Devils] have improved 100 percent."