By Dan Pompili
April Lude scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, sparking a 13-0 Western Reserve run and the Blue Devils went on to defeat Leetonia, 49-44, in a Division IV sectional opener Saturday at South Range High School.
The teams are Inter Tri-County League rivals.
Leetonia battled to keep the game close and the Bears kept the Blue Devils on their toes as Western Reserve carried only a two-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
And as the third quarter commenced, it looked like the Bears might just win the day. Emily Schneider and Nicole Mann paced the Bears in a 19-point third quarter, scoring six apiece and getting plenty of help from their teammates. Schneider had 13 for Leetonia on the night and Mann added 10.
A 10-2 run sparked the Bears as the half began, and they continued to trade shots with the Devils thereafter. But Western Reserve was not about to be upended that easily.
“I told the kids at the half, they’re gonna make runs, they’re a good team, it’s what they do,” said Western Reserve coach Josh Scott. “We weren’t getting to the basket so we decided to take kind of a passive-aggressive approach.”
The Devils opened the final period with a 13-0 swing in their own favor, spearheaded by Lude. Lude made three shots, including a 3-pointer. She also landed on the foul line twice for four more points.
“She’s honestly one of the best set shooters I’ve ever had,” Scott said.
Leetonia managed just six points in the final quarter as its season came to an end.
“We just kind ran out of steam,” Leetonia coach Kelly Paxson said. “Their shots fell and they stayed with it and got after it. And it didn’t help that we were 0 for 13 from the foul line.”