By Greg Gulas
The Columbiana Clippers play intense defense in allowing opponents a mere 36 points per game.
Jackson-Milton’s Michaelina Terranova on the other hand, has been stellar offensively and with 1,293 career points, needed just seven points in order to become the Blue Jays’ all-time leading scorer.
On Tuesday, both Terranova and the Blue Jays witnessed stingy first hand.
Kayla Muslovski scored 13 points and the Clippers’ defense held Jackson-Milton to single digits in all four quarters as Columbiana defeated the Blue Jays, 36-23.
Terranova led the Blue Jays with six points and now has 1,299 for her career, tying Tonya Treharne for the top spot after she set the standard in 1985.
Terranova exited the game with 5:03 remaining however, and did not return after landing awkwardly in an attempt to grab a loose ball.
“The game plan was to give it our all at both ends of the court. Michaelina is a great player and I struggled at times when guarding her, but it was fun,” Muslovski said. “There was a lot of energy here tonight and that’s exactly what we needed.”
There were two ties and three lead changes in the opening period and with time winding down, Terranova hit her initial bucket of the game to give the Blue Jays a 9-8 lead heading to the second frame.
Columbiana scored six of first eight points of the second period to forge a 14-11 advantage, but a hoop by Ashley Cameron pulled Jackson-Milton (18-2) to within 14-13 at the 4:30 mark.
That was the closest the Blue Jays would get the rest of the way.
Four points by Kennedy Fullum keyed an 8-0 run to close the half as Columbiana opened a 22-13 lead heading to the locker room.
Fullum finished the game with eight points.
“We believe that defense creates our offensive opportunities and coach [Ron] Moschella focuses on that aspect of the game quite a bit in practice,” Fullum said. “We knew that this was going to be a tough game, but felt we’d be alright if we just played like we are capable of playing.”
Moschella, who was coaching with a heavy heart after the death of his sister, said his team worked hard all week to prepare for Terranova and the Blue Jays.
“We went small at the beginning just to see what would happen, then stayed small. Everyone stepped up tonight,” Moschella said. “Jackson-Milton is a good team, but they have some injuries right now and that has hurt them. We’re just happy to be pretty healthy right now.”
According to Moschella, going up against boys in practice has been very helpful in their preparation.
“We worked on our defense all week with the team practicing against my grandson and some other boys,” he said. “They’re all golfers, but they’re athletic and it has really helped. We worked hard defensively, analyzed everything and then set our game plan. Everything for Jackson-Milton comes off of Michaelina so it’s just unfortunate that she got hurt tonight.
“We also understood that we weren’t going to shoot a 3 tonight and that we were going to drive to the hoop.”
A bucket by Emily Williams cut the Columbiana lead to 28-19 in the third, but two free throws by Fullum increased the margin to 30-19 with a quarter remaining.
Two buckets by the Clippers’ Taylor Hall keyed a 6-0 run as Columbiana opened a 36-19 lead, but buckets by Williams and the Blue Jays’ Courtney Mercer rounded out the scoring, which was their lowest offensive output of the season.
“It just wasn’t our night. We couldn’t get the ball in the hoop in the early going and were out of sync,” Blue Jays head coach Pat Keney said. “Take nothing away from Columbiana because they did an excellent job at both ends of the court.
“The last five games have been tough. Injuries have hurt us and as a result, we haven’t been able to substitute like we would have liked. It is what it is as we now look to bounce back.”