Lowellville improved to 14-0 by beating Springfield for second time this season.
LOWELLVILLE -- When Lowellville and Springfield met Dec. 13 in New Middletown, Lowellville broke away in the second half for a 20-point win.
Thursday night at Lowellville, before more than 900 fans, the rematch wasn't settled until the final two minutes of the Inter-County League girls high school basketball showdown, when Lowellville pulled away for a 42-33 victory.
The Rockets, ranked sixth in this week's Associated Press Division IV poll, improved to 14-0 overall and 9-0 in the ICL. Springfield is 12-4, 7-2.
Angelina Fuimara of Springfield made a basket with 5 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, which tied the score at 30-all. That was the only deadlock of the game.
Fiumara added a free throw with 4:34 remaining to give the Tigers a 31-30 lead, but 14 seconds later Amanda Nero of Lowellville was fouled while attempting a 3-point shot. The senior went 2-of-3 at the foul line, putting the Rockets ahead, 32-31.
Then, with just about four minutes remaining, Nero made their last of her seven steals and went in for a layup to make it 34-31.
Springfield, which trailed for most of the game, got back to 34-33 on another basket by Fiumara, a 5-foot-9 junior, with 3:45 to go, but her 18th point would prove to be the Tigers' last of the game.
At the 1:40 mark, Caitlin McCarthy, Lowellville's point guard, scored to restore the three-point margin. Down the stretch, Sara Porter added a field goal and free throw, and Nero made another foul shot, the last of her 26 points.
"We had a nice crowd and they saw a great game," said Lowellville coach Tony Matisi. "Now we have a two-game lead with three games to go [in the ICL] ... that's how big this game was."
Nero scored eight points in the first quarter as the Rockets took a 10-4 lead. She added five points in the second quarter, but Springfield was able to get to within 17-16 at the intermission.
Nero, who is averaging 25 points per game, opened the third period with an acrobatic drive to the basket and, after Springfield closed the margin to 21-18, she went coast to coast with a steal for a layup.
"In a big game like this [Nero] has a habit of stepping up," said Matisi, "but Sara Porter and Caitlin McCarthy also came up huge for us."
After the Tigers took a 24-23 lead on back-to-back baskets by Fiumara, Nero made a field goal and a 3-pointer, the latter coming with 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter, to give Lowellville a four-point lead.
"We really wanted this game and knew we really had to play hard in every facet of the game to win," Nero said.
"I always look to see if someone else has a better shot than me and if they don't I look for openings. Tonight I had some good ones."
Big on the boards
Porter, a 5-7 senior who is the Rockets' second-leading scorer and top rebounder, added eight points and 11 of Lowellville's 23 rebounds.
"We got the job done," said Porter. "We were ready for this game and didn't intend to lose in our house."
Springfield's top scorer, Lindsay Johnson, didn't start, but once she was in the game she contributed, finishing with 11 points and seven rebounds. Fiumara, in addition to her 18 points, had 10 of the Tigers' 33 rebounds.
"Angelina did a lot for us tonight; she brought us back," said Springfield coach Sandi Kohler.
"Both teams played well and the game was there for whoever stepped up at the end. They made the key shots when it counted."