CONNORVILLE - Steubenville - and more specifically sophomore Emiley Masloski - showed no signs of opening-night jitters inside the Buckeye Local Gymnasium on Monday evening.
The Big Red sophomore was knocking down shot after shot from all over the floor, while at the other end, the Panthers (0-1) struggled to hold onto the ball, let alone score.
Taking advantage of Masloski's hot hand and 11 first-quarter turnovers by the Panthers, Steubenville (1-0) grabbed a 23-8 lead and, despite a valiant effort from the hosts late in the contest, went on to post a 52-41 victory.
"We chase the same 15 points all night," Buckeye Local coach Willie Luther said. "We stressed to the girls during the pre-season that the start of of the game is very important to us because we have to get out and make sure we can play our style of basketball."
Steubenville dictated the tempo and style as Masloski connected for three treys in the opening quarter.
"We're a young team, and getting off to a good start is important," Steubenville coach Phil Casinelli said. "I thought we did a lot of good things, especially early in the game, but we've got plenty to work on."
Casinelli has witnessed his talented point guard fill it up in a hurry, so her early-game exploits came as no surprise.
"She's capable scoring points in bunches, but she's also capable of getting her teammates involved, too," Casinelli said. "She does a lot of good things for this team."
After playing much better in the second quarter, the Panthers struggled again in the third. Steubenville outscored Buckeye Local, 12-5 to build a 21-point lead entering the fourth period. Included was a 10-0 run in the middle stages of the period.
"We've had problems in the past of holding onto leads in the past, so I guess this is the first step," Casinelli said. "You've got to worry about building a lead before you start focusing on extending a lead."
The Panthers got as close as nine with just under a minute left thanks to a 16-4 spurt, but Big Red was able to finally close it out by knocking down charity tosses. All told, Steubenville shot just 16-of-31 from the line, but it converted six of those in the fourth.
"The second half we did a much better job of limiting (Masloski's) shots and points in the second half," Luther said. "We don't have a lot of experience or depth, so for us to come out, battle and play hard all the way to the end really says a lot about each and every girl on our roster."
Masloski's scoring was complemented by Veronica Orelland, who netted 13 points. Hannah Meyer scored seven points.
Buckeye Local was led by post player Kayla Fillopovich, who scored 19 points and collected a game-high 21 rebounds. Alexis Valuska finished with six.