By Doug Chapin
LEAVITTSBURG — The Campbell Memorial High girls basketball team on Wednesday took another big step in what is shaping up to be a memorable season.
The Red Devils outscored host LaBrae 19-6 in the third quarter to take control of their 67-50 All-America Conference Blue Division triumph over the Vikings.
Campbell remains atop the division standings at 7-0, to go with a 13-2 overall mark.
“We sat down in the summertime with the girls during open gyms and it was their goal to win a conference championship and to win a tournament game,” Campbell coach Mike Szenborn said. “Those are things that haven’t been done in the girls program since the late 70s.
“The girls have really put the work in they needed to put in, and they’ve bought into our system over the last few years.”
Senior Tashira Uceta scored 23 points and dished out four assists for the Devils and fellow senior Jayaira Grihm had 16 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
Junior forward Iesha Moses had 13 points and 11 rebounds, senior forward Brande Ellington added nine points and six rebounds, and junior guard Tiera Graves scored four of her six points in the decisive third period.
“Everything goes off of our defense, really it does,” Szenborn said. “We call it organized chaos but we know where we’re supposed to be. Everything we do is based on ball pressure, trying to deny the wings and being in the right position.”
Campbell led 21-14 after one quarter and 33-28 at halftime. Brittani Hill scored 14 points and Courtney Aldridge added 12 for LaBrae (10-7, 3-4 AAC Blue).
As much as any athletic program in the All-America Conference, the Campbell girls have benefited from the merger of the former Metro Athletic Conference and Trumbull Athletic Conference. In the old MAC, the Devils had to compete with schools like Canfield, Howland, Poland and Salem.
“When we first took over four years ago, we went from getting beat by 60 points each night to being able to compete,” Szenborn said. “That was the thing, we knew if we could get into a conference in which we could compete on a weekly basis, we could work this into something special.
“Not to take anything away from the larger tiers [in the AAC], but realistically our school size made it difficult,” Szenborn said. “The realignment has worked out well for us, and our tier is very competitive. Any of the six teams could beat any of the others on any night.”
Campbell started out solidly a year ago, but this season the Devils have been able to carry the success through three-fourths of the campaign.
“We didn’t finish well last year,” Szenborn said. “We had a good first half and it was their first winning season in probably 10 or 15 years and we got content.
“We didn’t realize our potential. We were 9-3 at one point last year and finished 11-10. Now they see they can compete and they put the work in over the summer. Plus we’re constantly preaching not to look past anyone and to play one game at a time.”