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Clippers bounce back, beat Lowellville

COLUMBIANA — The Columbiana Clippers girls basketball team may not have started the season last week the way they wanted, but on Monday night they got themselves back on track in a big way. The Clippers pulled away from a tied game in the second quarter en route to a 68-34 win over the Lowellville Rockets. With the victory, the Clippers even their record at 1-1.

“This was definitely a big game because it gave us our confidence back. We needed to get it back after losing to Manchester. That hurt us,” Columbiana senior guard Kayla Muslovski said. “Coming here (home) and with our energy and winning definitely helped us get our confidence back.”

“We needed some confidence after that (Manchester game),” Clippers coach David Crimson said. “We didn’t play great on Friday and give Manchester a lot of credit, they killed us on the boards so we really wanted to focus on a couple of things (tonight). One was we wanted to rebound better and we knew we needed to have more than four offensive rebounds. Two, we wanted to share the ball more and get more people involved.”

Muslovski scored a game-high 31 points to pace the Clippers while Grace Witmer added 14, and Grace Hammond chipped in with 12. Witmer would pace the Clippers in rebounds with six, while Camille Zentner came off the bench to grab five.

The Clippers jumped out to a 10-4 midway through the opening period, but that was when the Rockets began to gain some treading. They would put together a 7-3 run to pull to within 13-11 at the end of the frame.

The Rockets would ride the momentum into the second stanza as they knotted the game at 13 following two successful free throws by Marah Bellis at the 7:41 mark of the quarter. But the Clippers would respond with an 11-0 run to push ahead 24-13. Once again the Rockets made a run as they outscored the Clippers 8-2 to cut the deficit down to 5 points at 26-21. Grace Hammond would give the Clippers a 29-21 lead at the half when she knocked down a jumper at the buzzer.

“I told the girls we beat Campbell in our first game by 25 and we did not play nearly as good of a game as we did in the first half of this game,” said Lowellville coach Lisa Modelski, whose team is 1-1. “Columbiana is a great team and I knew they had those two outstanding guards that we had to contend with. I thought we did a good job in the first half sticking with them.”

“I felt like we were on a roller-coaster ride there for a little bit,” Crimson said of the Clipper’s first half. “Whenever you are a trapping style of defense, you’re going to give some stuff up, and we know that. You just want to start wearing the other team down.”

The Clippers would come out in the second half go on a 9-1 run to pull out to a 38-22 lead with 5:17 remaining in the period.