Bottom falls out from Clippers

COLUMBIANA – The floor came right out from under the Columbiana Clippers on Monday night.

After a hole in the court delayed the second half by 20 minutes, Western Reserve stormed back from a 14-point halftime deficit to upset Columbiana, 40-34, and hand the Clippers their first loss of the season.

Columbiana (2-1) came into the season as a preseason favorite in the Inter-Tri County League lower tier and already has an early-season loss.

The Clippers started the first half in complete control, first on a 7-0 run, and then on a 10-0 run, culminating with a 20-4 lead after the first quarter. With a sizable lead, the Clippers decided to play man, but realized that the Blue Devils weren’t budging, and so neither did the Clippers, and three-and-a-half minutes were eaten up.

Clippers coach Ron Moschella wanted to see the Blue Devils make the move.

“We wanted to play man,” Moschella said. “They didn’t, we wanted to see what they would do.”

The Blue Devils (2-2) struggled in the first half not only with Clipper steals but also with two lengthy scoring runs that put the Blue Devils down 20-4 by the end of the first quarter.

As they trailed by so much, they found themselves at the standstill as the Clippers wanted to play man. However, with many fouls committed in the first quarter, Blue Devils coach Steve Miller saw the standstill as more than welcome.

“The players looked at me and asked if I was serious,” Miller said. “You ride the ship out, you stick with the game plan, and then you deal with the outcomes.”

That standstill resulted in the Blue Devils scoring the only two points in the second quarter due to two free-throws by Bethany Burger. A bigger standstill, however, emerged as the second half was about to begin.

During halftime, a loosened board was discovered on the court, and the maintenance crew was out to fix the floor, resulting in a 20-minute delay in the game.

As the Clippers warmed up on the court, the Blue Devils took the delay to the locker room.

“We were telling jokes and just trying to stay loose as long as we can,” Miller said. “It gave me a chance to talk about some things.”

The delay, in the long run, helped the Blue Devils as they outscored the Clippers 21-9 in the third quarter. Big two-point plays from Tory White, who led with 16 points, and Aleah Hughes, who shot for 10 points and had 11 rebounds, made the difference as the Blue Devils took the lead in the fourth quarter and never looked back.

“This showed what we needed to do,” Hughes said. “We needed to pick it up, and just went out there and dominated.”

As for the Clippers and the second half fallout and the delay due to the hole, Moschella summed it up to getting nervous at the wrong time and had no one to blame but themselves.

“We panicked, we just simply panicked,” Moschella said. “There are no excuses in basketball. Our kids didn’t play well in the second half, and there are just no excuses for how we played.”

Lauren Schlueter and Emily Witmer led the Clippers with eight points each while Mollie Donnelly shot for six.

Columbiana dominated Western Reserve in the junior varsity game 54-17.

Alexa Tringhese led with 13 points for the Clippers while Sydney Miller shot for six for the Blue Devils.

Both teams return to action on Thursday. Western Reserve heads to Leetonia while Columbiana hosts Sebring.

WESTERN RESERVE: 4-2-21-13-40

COLUMBIANA: 20-0-9-5-34

WESTERN RESERVE SCORING: Lauren Falasca 2-0-4, Rachel Maslach 2-0-4, Paige Ewing 0-0-0, Tory White 3-4-16, Aleah Hughes 4-2-10, Gabby Stubbs 1-0-2, Taylor Kilbert 1-0-2, Bethany Burger 0-2-2. TEAM TOTALS: 15, 8-11: 40.

COLUMBIANA SCORING: Balie Mook 1-3-5, Aleah Whitacre 2-0-4, Lauren Schlueter 2-4-8, Mollie Donnelly 2-0-6, Emily Witmer 3-2-8, Brianna Gingher 1-0-3, Brynn Pennell 0-0-0, Alexa Tringhese 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 11, 9-15: 34

Three-point goals: Western Reserve 2 (White 2), Columbiana 3 (Donnelly 2, Gingher).