Clippers play on another level

COLUMBIANA-They aren’t yet as polished as they’d like to be, but the Columbiana girls basketball team showed why they are on the short list of Inter-Tri County League lower tier contenders.

Behind their hustling and pressure defense, the Clippers removed all doubt by the middle of the first quarter on their way to crushing Leetonia 79-15 Thursday at Columbiana High School.

It was the conference opener for both teams with Columbiana improving to 2-0, 1-0, while Leetonia falls to 2-2, 0-1.

“We stress the defensive end and the kids are learning how to play hard,” Columbiana coach Ron Moschella said. “They aren’t always making the right decisions, but they’re working at it. I think everyone that was out on the floor tonight gave it their all.”

“We’ve been working a lot lately on our press and I think it showed tonight,” Columbiana junior forward Lauren Schlueter said. “We executed pretty well overall.”

It was over early. The Clipper defense strained the Bears right from the opening tip. Leetonia actually broke the press on a number of occasions, but the problem came in the moments immediately after when-in a rush to attack-the Bears committed one turnover after another. Leetonia did not make a field goal in the first half as the Clippers glided to a 21-2 lead.

“We definitely had the most trouble once we got across half court,” Leetonia coach Kelly Paxson said. “We were prepared for their press, we practiced well against it, we just couldn’t finish.”

In the second quarter, Moschella inserted most of his second unit and the dominance continued. The Bears got their first field goal at the seven-minute mark, but would go five minutes before scoring another point. On offense, the Clippers got a balanced effort. Point guard Baylie Mook led the way with 18 points, four rebounds and five assists, while Schluetter had eight points and five rebounds. Six other Clippers scored at least six points. Haley Scoville led Leetonia with six points.

“I thought we moved the ball pretty well at times against their zone and were able to break it down and get some good looks,” Schluetter said.

“We need to work on our offense a little bit,” Moschella said. “We need to make some better decisions. We also need to work on rebounding the ball better.”

Despite the game’s lopsided score, Moschella knows that early in the season there are no shortage of details to focus on

“We are about 65 percent of where we want to be,” Moschella said. “We have a long way to go. That other 35 percent is the toughest part. We are playing well but if we want to kick it up another level we have to get smarter on offense and smarter on defense. That’s just going to take time and a lot of reps.”

Columbiana also rolled in the jayvee game 63-19. Taylor Simms led the Clippers with 24 points, while Trisha Ogle had 8 points for the Bears.

Game notes

The Lisbon at Columbiana game that was snowed out on November 27 has been rescheduled for 6 p.m on Jan. 11.

LEETONIA: 2-7-4-2-15

COLUMBIANA: 21-25-10-23-79

LEETONIA SCORING: Maddie Penfold 0-0-0, Mara Newton 0-0-0, Emily Schneider 0-2-2, Haley Scoville 3-0-6, Autumn Champney 1-0-2, Tori Norman 0-2-2, Casey Grace 0-3-3, Trisha Ogle 0-0-0, Julia Chuey 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 4, 7-17: 15.

COLUMBIANA SCORING: Baylie Mook 7-3-18, Aleah Whitacre 3-0-6, Lauren Schlueter 4-0-8, Mollie Donnelly 3-2-9, Emily Witmer 3-0-6, Mariah Rovnak 0-2-2, Bri Gingher 3-2-9, Brynn Pennell 2-3-8, Taylor Simms 2-3-8, Elise Hammond 0-0-0, Alexa Tringhese 2-0-5, Melissa Stockman 0-0-0, Abbey Fleeson 0-0-0. TEAM TOALS: 29, 15-19: 79.

Three-point goals: Columbiana 6 (Mook, Donnelly, Gingher, Pennell, Simms, Tringhese).