By BRANDON JUDEH
Lowellville’s recorded 14 first-quarter steals and went on to post a 63-15 victory over Heartland Christian in a Division IV girls basketball sectional tournament game at South Range High School on Saturday.
The top-seeded Rockets (20-2) jumped out to a 19-0 lead, advancing to a district semifinal against Lisbon on Thursday night.
“We challenged our girls before the game to accomplish certain goals defensively,” Lowellville coach Tony Matisi said. “We didn’t want Heartland to get any second-chance rebounds, limit their open shots and our girls accomplished that.”
A testament to how well the Rockets defense played could be seen in the first quarter, when they only allowed Heartland Christian three shots. Their first shot was not taken until two minutes remained.
“Our goal for the game was to keep Heartland under 20 total points and we achieved that. We always work hard from beginning to end and never quit,” said junior Madison Opritza.
The second quarter was much the same as the Rockets, led by Ashley Moore and Hvisdak, continued to cause turnovers and get to the foul line.
By halftime the score was 44-4 and Lowellville had an impressive 20 steals.
“In practice we work a lot on stealing and defense and that’s how you get your offense to work,” said Hvisdak.
Hvisdak said the team does not think about the scoreboard; instead they focus on how to individually improve their game and get better as a team.
Everything came to a halt in the third period when Lowellville senior Emily Carlson took an elbow to the face and fell to the floor.
“I think the whole gym was holding their breath, I told her to just stay calm and move your body to make sure everything is OK. It was a relief to see her get up and be all right,” said Hvisdak.
Matisi said his team matches up well against Lisbon.
“[Lisbon’s Pam] Pierce is tough, we need to keep her off the boards and know where she is at on the court,” he said
Hvisdak scored 13 points, grabbed six boards and had eight steals to go along with three assists. Moore also scored 13 and Opritza chipped in with 12.
Lisbon 42, Wellsville 36
Lisbon (13-8) led 17-15 at halftime, thanks to out-rebounding the Tigers 17-7. Pierce had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead all players.
Lisbon took a nine-point lead into the final quarter, but Wellsville fought back to within three points thanks to Mikyla Tipton who scored 12 points.