By Doug Chapin
McDONALD — The Western Reserve girls basketball team is halfway home.
The Blue Devils posted a 49-41 road victory Thursday night over perennial Inter-Tri-County League Tier Two power McDonald, giving Western Reserve a 7-0 mark (11-2 overall) their first time through the league schedule.
Coach Josh Scott said overconfidence the second time through should not be a problem.
“This round was hard enough and we know we now have the bulls’ eye and we understand that,” he said. “We know that we can come out and not play well and have anybody beat us on any night and that it’s going to take a lot of hard work.
“These kids deserve every win from here on out, they deserve it. They are the hardest-working group I’ve ever been around. We knew this year we had a chance to do some great things and we understand that we are only halfway there. But our goal is to compete and we want to be playing for a conference title. That’s something, as far as I know, that has not happened at Western Reserve.”
The contrast in scoring balance was a huge factor in Western Reserve’s favor on Thursday. Victoria Brown led the visitors with 14 points and she was followed by Colleen Kennehan with nine and Sammie Burton and Jessie Keller with seven each. In addition, three other girls dented the scoring column.
Senior post Joh’Vonnie Mosley scored 28 of McDonald’s 41 points and only two other players scored for the Blue Devils (6-4, 4-2).
“They are the best defensive team we’ve played all year,” McDonald coach Rob Hilbun said about Western Reserve. “They have speed, they have height and they closed out on our shooters. We tried to get the ball to Joh’Vonnie inside and they have height in there, and they’re also pressuring our guards. They are a very good team.
“We wanted to get the ball inside and move the ball around, but it wasn’t really smooth and that’s a tribute to their defense.”
Scott said Western Reserve accepted the fact that Mosley would get her points.
“Joh’Vonnie is a great basketball player,” he said. “She’s one of those kids that you have to go into the game knowing that she’s going to score. We went in with the idea we would take some of the other players out of the game a little bit. We understand she’s going to get her points and we’ll just do the best we can on her.”
McDonald’s largest lead in the game was 9-5 early in the second period and the home team’s last lead was 13-12 with 3:39 remaining in the half. Western Reserve led 21-16 at the half and 33-25 after three quarters, though the lead did reach 10 at 31-21.
McDonald did not get closer than seven in the final quarter and the WR lead was at 15, 46-31 with 2:30 left in the game.
Western Reserve has good size and frontline depth and it showed in the rebounding numbers. The visitors grabbed 45 missed shot to 36 for McDonald. Brown led with 14, to go with five blocked shots, Keeler had 10 rebounds and Burton eight. In addition, Matti Shahada dished out five assists.
Mosley grabbed 20 rebounds for McDonald.
“Our size is something that we always try to use to our advantage,” Scott said. “Our guards do a great job of getting our posts the basketball and our post players are working hard to get the ball. We do feel it is one of our strengths.”
Despite the second league loss, McDonald is by no means giving up on the season.
“This has been a tough week, we lost to Lowellville Monday and Western Reserve tonight and those are the two top teams,” Hilbun said. “We still want to compete in the league. We think we’re playing our best basketball despite the two losses. We want to keep improving and gain some momentum for the tournament.”