By Ryan Jones
BERLIN CENTER — Western Reserve parlayed its size advantage on the interior and quickness on the perimeter into a huge halftime lead and never looked back.
The Blue Devils (4-2, 2-0) limited Sebring to three field goals through three quarters en route to a 43-24 victory in an Inter-Tri County League Tier Two girls basketball contest on Monday night.
Sebring took its only lead, 2-0, when Taylor Ward converted a lay-up and was fouled. Ward missed the ensuing free throw and the Blue Devils went on a 10-0 run to take a 10-2 lead.
Western Reserve coach Josh Scott said his squad’s defense went a long way to determine the outcome of the game.
“The first couple of minutes didn’t give us a good feeling,” he said. “But our defense was the difference. Almost all of our offense came as a result of our pressure. The second 10-0 run we went on [in the second quarter] really opened up the game. We forced some turnovers and pushed the ball down the floor on offense.”
The Blue Devils mixture of man-to-man and zone pressure forced the Trojans into 22 turnovers.
Western Reserve’s Jessie Keeler (5-foot-10) and Victoria Brown (6-2) combined for 15 points and eight blocked shots.
“With their starting post player out we were able to exploit them inside on offense,” Scott said. “And our guards really pressured the ball like crazy which allowed Jessie and Victoria to roam the paint and challenge shots.
“I thought Victoria set the tone for us offensively and defensively tonight. When she’s focused, she has the potential to be scary-good at both ends for us.”
As proficient as the Blue Devils were in the first half, they were outscored 15-13 in the second half — and shot just 5-of-27 from the field.
“We called off the press and Sebring made it tough on us in the half court,” Scott said. “Our offense always has room for improvement. We didn’t do a good job of tailing out either. I thought we relied too much on our height to get rebounds and allowed them too many second shots.”
Brown led the Blue Devils with nine points and four blocks and Keeler had six points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Colleen Kennehan totaled eight points and Hannah Mowery added eight points and five rebounds.
Katy Butler paced the Trojans with six points and nine rebounds as Sebring had nine players score.
Western Reserve will play at Wellsville on Thursday and Scott said his team’s success hinges on staying out of foul trouble.
“We play aggressively on defense, but we have a tendency to reach and foul,” he said. “Two of our guards picked up two fouls in the first half and we had to draw back the pressure. We have to get better at controlling how aggressive we are at times.”