By Greg Gulas
When you’ve had the best four-year run in the history of your program, what do you do for an encore?
If you’re Tony Matisi, coach of the Lowellville High girls basketball team, you simply reload and hope that your incoming freshman class is as talented as its record-setting predecessors.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches at Monday’s weekly luncheon at the Blue Wolf Banquet Center, Matisi said the past four seasons have been very gratifying for a variety of reasons.
“We’ve had a great run. With three 1,000 point scorers and a group that really bought into the team-concept, this group learned early what it would take to win and then went about their daily business; both on and off the court,” he said.
The Rockets went 87-13 the past four years, winning four Inter Tri-County League championships. They won 55 of 56 conference games during that span.
“We’ve been a 3-point, transition, use-the-whole-floor team the last four years and it has worked for us with the personnel that we’ve had,” said Matisi. “More proud for me is the fact that our players remain excellent students that understand the classroom is first and the basketball court remains second in terms of priority.”
The Rockets’ three 1,000 point scorers — Emily Carlson, Taylor Hvisdak and Ashley Moore — are all top students. Carlson, a Division IV first-team All-Ohio selection, and Hvisdak have 4.00 grade point averages.
Having three players on one team each score 1,000 points for a career is finally starting to sink in for Matisi.
“As you go through the season you know their accomplishment is special, but there really isn’t much time to think about it because you are practicing and preparing for the next game.
“Now that the season is over and I’ve had time to reflect on what they’ve done and what the team has accomplished, I just sit back and think how amazing a run it has been,” he said.
Matisi, who is 322-144 overall in 20 seasons — he was 87-47 in six seasons at Ursuline — calls his former high school coach, Dick Williams, his biggest influence.
“I learned from someone who I felt was one of the best basketball coaches, boys or girls, in the area,” said Matisi. “I learned from [Williams] to be disciplined and organized and his influence remains with me daily.”
Matisi said he will continue to schedule aggressively.
“We’re always looking to play tough opponents because it prepares us for our league schedule,” he said. “After going to a 22-game schedule this season, we now have eight opportunities to get prepared for the league.”
Lowellville has schedule non-conference games with Canfield, Badger, Lordstown, Maplewood, South Range and Springfield for next season.
Next week, Corky Pike, YMCA fitness instructor, will serve as guest speaker.