By Ryan Buck
A 1,000-point scorer on an undefeated team usually has all eyes on her. Defenses surround her, photographers continuously snap pictures, and accolades often follow. Lordstown junior basketball forward Sarah Cash, however, isn’t one to bring attention to herself.
She just lets her play on the court do that for her.
“She’s not a big vocal leader,” said Lordstown coach Dave Smith. “She’s a leader by example on the floor. She rebounds well, attacks the boards, plays good, solid defense, moves her feet.”
Cash led the undefeated Red Devils to a thrilling 48-46 victory over previously-undefeated host Lowellville Thursday night.
Lordstown, behind a game-high 27 points from Cash, overcame a 10-point deficit at halftime to steal a win in a dynamic fourth quarter.
Sydney Negro’s lay-in with 1:20 to go, followed by a Kelsy Smith free throw, gave the Red Devils a two-point lead late in the contest.
Off an inbounds play with six-tenths of a second left, Lowellville senior Maddie Opritza’s 3-point attempt from the left wing rolled in-and-out as time expired to give Smith and his team a big non-conference win, and a huge sigh of relief.
“Actually I thought it was going in,” Smith said. “We were playing for the lob. [Number] 30 [Oprtiza] is definitely a great shooter. We emphasized that in pregame and practice that we had to stop their shooters.”
Lowellville coach Tony Matisi had a good feeling when he saw the ball leave Opritza’s hand, but was disappointed to see a double-digit lead slip away in the second half.
“I thought it was down,” said Matisi. “I don’t think it should have come to that. I told [the Lowellville team] at halftime, ‘Expect them to make a nice run at us. We’ve got to weather that.’”
Lowellville led 31-21 at the half and 40-32 in the third quarter, but Cash, held without a point in the second, got going.
“I noticed that anytime she touched the ball, they would double her and try to get the ball out of her hands,” Smith said.
With under a minute left in the third, Cash held off a defender and hit a lay-in as she was fouled to the floor. The ensuing free throw cut the Lordstown deficit to one.
“Just whenever they started jumping at me I knew the double-team was coming so I would find the open girl and get her the ball,” said Cash. “I just used my body and posted up on them on the wings and in the post so I could get the ball. Then we just ran our offense from there.”
With just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Cash knocked down the first of two free throws to collect her 10th point of the night and reach the 1,000-point milestone for her career.
“I don’t care really if I score points, I just want to win like we did tonight,” said Cash, who earned special mention all-state as a sophomore. “It doesn’t matter if I’m scoring or if my teammates are doing it.”
Kaye Solak paced the Rockets with 18 points.