By Tom Williams
After the Struthers High girls basketball made its debut at the Covelli Centre, Wildcats junior forward Brittaney Zupko confessed it was hard to resist glancing at the arena’s video boards.
“It was a great experience,” said Zupko who scored 15 points and made nine rebounds in Struthers’ 66-31 victory over shorthanded Farrell on Monday. “It was fun to see yourself on the board.”
Zupko admitted she caught herself looking up while going back to defend.
“And free throws, I was like, ‘oh my gosh,’ I was kind of worried about what I was doing because you would see the camera [under the basket],” Zupko said. “But it was cool seeing my teammates happy and stuff, running up and down the floor on the big screen.”
The Wildcats (13-4) needed a little joy to offset Saturday’s 63-34 loss to All-American Conference American Division rival Canfield, their most frustrating defeat of the season.
“That’s a good thing,” Struthers coach John Grandy said of playing 48 hours later. “When you fall off the bike, you need to get right back on.
“It’s tough coming off a frustrating loss,” said Grandy whose Wildcats jumped out to a 29-10 halftime lead. “We feel good about what we did today.”
Grandy said two of Farrell’s key players were in Washington, D.C., for President Obama’s inauguration.
Farrell coach Ed Turosky said four other players are emotionally drained by the Sunday shooting death of their relative, Sharon High basketball player Leangelo Ford.
Bria Gambill led the Steelers (8-6) by scoring 15 points including nine free throws. Jarissa Shaper came off the bench to score seven.
“I wanted to get them over here to see an arena like this,” Turosky said. “If we’re fortunate enough to get into the state playoffs, you play in bigger venues and I wanted them to be adjusted to that [type of] setting.
“So this was a great game for us to come over and play,” Turosky said.
Senior Ashley Hefferon led the Wildcats with 19 points and six rebounds. She also made Struthers’ only 3-pointer.
Hefferson said the deeper background at the arena wasn’t distracting to a team that excels from outside.
“We had to adjust the best way we could,” said Hefferon, who admitted she watched replays “a couple of times.
“It’s our senior year,” said Hefferon, referring to Isis Nored and Zosia Thomas. “We had a good experience to get to [play] in here.”
Also for the Wildcats, McKenna Shives scored eight points and Ashleigh Ryan six.